Union membership has declined to an all-time low, but union bosses managed to break their political spending record yet again.

Unions spent $1.7 billion on campaigns, politics, and lobbying in the last election cycle, despite the fact they represent less of the workforce now more than ever.

So, how did they do it?  By forced dues and organizing government against taxpayers.

Just how much of that $17 billion came from people forced to fund union politics, either through compulsory unionism or taxation?

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

“The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), a nonprofit union watchdog, found that unions spent $1.713 billion on political activities and lobbying. The watchdog group analyzed federal labor filings that disclose how much unions spend on political activities at the federal, state, and local level, as well as Federal Election Commission records collected by OpenSecrets.com.”

But despite union boss claims that all political spending comes from voluntary donations, a look at the paperwork reveals the bulk of union politicking is subsidized by a combination of dues taken from unwilling workers, and workers subsidized by tax dollars.

The Beacon reported:

Stan Greer, the researcher behind the study, said 75 percent of the money spent on politics came from union treasuries rather than campaign PACs or other independent union-backed political operations.”

While PACs are funded by voluntary donations, union dues fund general union treasuries.

And most of those union dues are taken from workers who would be fired if they refused to join a union.

There were 14,577,000 union members in 2014, Watchdog.org reports.

The Heritage Foundation reports only 4.4 million of them are in ‘Right to Work’ states, where one cannot be forced to join a union or pay a fee to a union to get or keep a job.

That means around 10,130,000 union members, or 70 percent of the national union membership, work in states where they can, and often are, forced against their will to join a union just to have a job.

But how many of those 10 million union members willingly joined?  Wisconsin gives us an idea.

Prior to 2010, union membership could be, and often was, a condition of employment in Wisconsin public schools.

After massive protests and widespread union violence, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation eliminating collective bargaining in public employment, allowing workers a choice.

Without the threat of being fired used as a collection tool, union revenues flowing into Wisconsin government school unions plunged by two-thirds.

Similar results have been seen in other states that have adopted ‘Right to Work’ or other laws giving workers the right to free-choice in union membership.

So look at the numbers.

Greer finds 75% of union political spending comes from general revenues, which are funded by dues.  That’s $1.275 billion.

Of that $1.275 billion, about 70 percent comes from workers in forced-dues states.

If two-thirds of that 70 percent do not wish to be union members, as seen in Wisconsin, which means 47 percent of all union members are people who reside in compulsory unionism states, and would rather not be union members.

Forty-seven percent of $1.275 billion is $597 million in political spending using money taken from unwilling workers – equal to what the entire health care industry spent on political activity related to Obamacare.

To add insult to injury, an overwhelming majority of union members, including willing members, oppose union bosses spending their money on politics without their consent.

An October 2010 Word Doctors poll found “66 percent of government and private union employees say it is unreasonable that union leaders across America can spend their dues on politics without getting their approval,” Unionfacts.com reported.

They also report a 2004 Zogby poll found “63 percent of all employees, and 61 percent of unionized employees, agreed that union members shouldn’t be forced to contribute.”

Even as union membership plummets and more states adopt ‘Right to Work’, forced dues is an open spigot union bosses use to pump more and more money into politics, by draining workers who are less and less supportive of unions’ radical politics.