It's worth noting that the unions that Ryan has been most cordial towards, the building trade unions, have traditionally tended to be whiter and more conservative than many of their counterparts, falling closer to the Republican base. That said, Ryan's position of at least dealing with organized labor back home was once not so far out of step within the GOP, especially in the North. That his stance is exceptional at all is a sign of how the party has shifted.
Whatever affinity Ryan may have for unionized labor, it’s become a very one sided affair. While general contractors have been the fifteenth highest contributors to his campaigns over the course of his career, they don’t even break the top twenty this cycle. The AFL CIO gave him a rating of 28% last year for his positions on union issues. None of which is particularly surprising, given the extent to which Ryan’s profile has been built on his plans to eviscerate programs like medicare, social security, and the new health care law, all of which are traditional staples of the union agenda, which they’ve promised to go to bat for. As the news of Ryan being the pick spread, you could almost hear unions all around their country sharpening their knives.
Paul Ryan's Dirty Union Secret | The New Republic