PA Labor Unions May Flip the U.S. House

If Democrats take the House next month, they’ll owe a debt to public-sector unions in Pennsylvania. Because of court-ordered redistricting, Democrats have a shot at flipping at least five of the Keystone State’s 18 congressional districts.

Last year the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit alleging that the state’s congressional map was rigged in favor of Republicans. The action was part of a broader effort backed by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, launched in 2017 by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

 What does this have to do with government unions? Start with the 2014 gubernatorial race, in which Mr. Wolf defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Government unions poured more than $4 million into Mr. Wolf’s campaign, including more than $1 million from the Service Employees International Union and $800,000 from the Pennsylvania State Education Association. All told, government union contributions made up nearly 20% of Mr. Wolf’s fundraising in 2014. Since then, these unions have given the governor, who is seeking re-election this year, an additional $5.8 million.

The unions then set their sights on the 2015 judicial elections, in which three vacant seats on the state’s seven-member Supreme Court were on the ballot. Whereas some states use appointments or nonpartisan elections for the judicial branch, Pennsylvania employs partisan elections for all judges.

Government unions gave nearly $1.5 million to a super PAC called Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform, which spent $2.5 million running attack ads against Republican Supreme Court candidates. They also gave more than $400,000 directly to the Democratic high-court candidates—including now-Justice David Wecht, who campaigned on throwing out the congressional map. The Democrats swept all three seats, securing a 5-2 majority and making the January ruling possible.

The clincher in all this is that the only reason these unions continue to wield such influence is that Pennsylvania taxpayers are forced to finance their political fundraising apparatus. Under Pennsylvania law, government unions—and only government unions—can use the state’s public payroll system to deduct both union dues and political-action committee contributions from government employees’ paychecks automatically.

If Pennsylvania gives the Democrats a House majority this November, pundits and media alike will credit anti-Trump sentiment. Instead, Democrats should send thank-you notes to Pennsylvania’s government unions.

Mr. Brouillette is president and CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.