ULINE CEO emerges as major supporter of RTW, right-wing candidates, causes

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RTW BACKER Richard Uihlein (left), of Uline packaging company, has contributed $500,000 to the effort to make Missouri a so-called “right-to-work” state. A conservative mega-donor, Uihlein has also contributed to the campaigns of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (center) and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Is your union doing business with ULINE?

By ED FINKELSTEIN
Publisher

Richard Uihlein, the Illinois mega-donor executive behind family-owned Uline packaging company, a major supplier to unions and other businesses of shipping, retail, safety, material handling and industrial supplies in Missouri, Illinois and across the country, has contributed $500,000 to the effort to make Missouri a “right-to-work” (RTW) state.

Uihlein recently made the contribution to a political action committee named “Freedom to Work,” a Kansas City-based PAC that formed last year to oppose efforts to take Missouri’s phony anti-worker, anti-union RTW legislation to a vote of the people.

Uihlein has also contributed to the campaigns of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s bid for U.S. Senate.

Uihlein contributed $360,000 to Greitens’ bid for governor in 2016.

Greitens’ own dark money group, A New Missouri, formed by his campaign aides, has given $1.1 million to the Freedom to Work PAC, but the sources of that money are hidden. Greitens’ campaign office shares space in the same building as A New Missouri.

Freedom to Work is only one of several groups formed to promote RTW, which will appear on the ballot as Proposition A. Voting ‘NO’ on Prop A will defeat RTW in Missouri.

ANTI-UNION MEGADONOR

Although Uihlein has been quietly contributing to anti-union Republican candidates and causes decades, it wasn’t until the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported his half-million-dollar donation to the Freedom to Work PAC recently that the full extent of this anti-worker financing became known.

Unions across Missouri are being urged to determine if they, or their training programs, are buying equipment or supplies from ULINE and whether, under the circumstances, they want to continue doing so.

ANTI-WORKER CHECKBOOK UNLEASHED

Long a Republican donor, Uihlein increased his political giving after the 2010 Citizens United decision, which ruled that companies are people and, as such, can give as much money as they want to political candidates and their campaigns. After that, Uihlein quickly surged to the top of the conservative donors’ list.

Crain’s Chicago Business has called him the “Koch of conservative politics in Illinois,” noting that he is “Illinois’ largest GOP donor nationwide.”

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Uihlein has given at least $17 million to the Republican National Committee and super PACs supporting Republican candidates in this election cycle, putting him on track to meet or exceed his 2016 political giving, which totaled $19 million, according to calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $2.6 million went to anti-worker Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Among the groups Uihlein has contributed to this cycle are the conservative Club for Growth Action, which received a $3.5 million check, and the Tea Party Patriots Fund, which received $500,000.

Uihlein became controversial among Republicans donors last year when he gave $100,000 to the political action committee backing failed and disgraced Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

FIGHTING TO SAVE JOBS, BEAT BACK RTW

Uihlein’s contribution in the RTW fight highlights the disproportionate financial odds being faced by We Are Missouri, the coalition of workers’ groups, students, seniors and their families fighting to keep Missouri workers free to have a strong voice in their workplaces, protect good-paying jobs, and hold accountable extremist politicians who insist on attacking workers rather than creating jobs.

We Are Missouri is fighting to build a Missouri economy that works for everyone, starting with the defeat of “right-to-work,” which is expected to appear on the August ballot as Proposition A. Voting “NO” on Prop. A will defeat RTW.

YOU CAN HELP

Workers across the state are being asked to donate $18, or whatever they can afford, to the “$18 for ’18” campaign by writing a check payable to “We Are MO” and mailing it to:

We Are Missouri

227 Jefferson St.

Jefferson City, MO 65101

If you prefer, you can donate online by visiting wearemo.org and clicking the red “Donate” button at the top of the page.

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