Some may think President Joe Biden is a political dinosaur. And not just because he could’ve been an extra in “Jurassic Park.”
Rather, it’s because old “Scranton Joe” is a die-hard promoter of and advocate for labor unions.
But the twist, as Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio pointed out on Tuesday, is that contemporary union leaders are far from the lunchbox-carrying, hard-hat-wearing blue-collar workers of Biden’s youth.
Rather, they have become another institution captive to highly educated, white, woke liberals — and that creates an opening for the GOP to become the real party of the working class.
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In an opinion article published by Florida Daily on Tuesday, Rubio argued that it is Democrats who are now “the party of the rich and powerful.”
Citing new U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics data, the senator pointed out that the share of U.S. union membership reached a record low in 2022.
“That happened despite the idea of organized labor being more popular than it has ever been since the 1960s,” Rubio noted.
“No doubt this mismatch is partially the result of anti-union action by Amazon and other companies that have no respect for their workers’ dignity. But a trend that’s continued largely unbroken for seven decades can’t be chalked up to current economic conditions.”
“Rather,” he added, “it reflects the failures of union leadership and the brokenness of a system that hasn’t been revised since the Great Depression.”
Rubio highlighted comments by Jon Hiatt, former general counsel at the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, both of whom note that the “labor movement” still organizes the way it always has, and with little recognition of changes in the economy or the workforce.
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But workers themselves also tell that story.
“Though they are hungry for greater representation, only 35 percent of potential union members would vote yes to organizing, while a roughly equal 32 percent would confidently vote no,” Rubio wrote.
“When pollsters asked those opposed to union formation the reason for their preference, very few respondents cited retaliation by management. Instead, they cited issues like union corruption, member dues, and – above all – politics.”
“That shouldn’t come as a surprise when not a single political issue that the AFL-CIO is involved in receives a majority of workers’ interest,” Rubio added.
For policymakers, he continued, “the conclusion is obvious.”
“We need to break the stagnant monopoly of Big Labor and create new mechanisms for workers to negotiate with management in the workplace.”
Rubio touted a new bill he introduced with GOP Rep. Jim Banks: the “Teamwork for Employees and Managers (TEAM) Act.”
The measure would update the 1935 National Labor Relations Act and grant American workers the right to organize outside of the “official” union framework,” Rubio said.
“It would also guarantee a legally protected representative on large corporate boards. This proposal could inject new life into an economy long stifled by the dead hand of the past.”
Leftists vigorously oppose the bill, parroting Big Labor’s line that non-union organizing would kill off workers’ rights.
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But, added Rubio, “Their false assumption is that Big Labor protects workers’ rights in the first place.”
“If that were true, why has Big Labor endorsed mass amnesty for illegal workers? Why did union bosses coordinate with the rail industry to have Congress deny paid sick days to its members? And why has union membership declined steadily since the 1950s, despite the fact that the popularity of organized labor is at a 57-year high?”
The answer, he maintained, can be found by looking at who now runs major unions: Ivy League consultants, white-collar professionals, and increasingly woke activists.
This cadre that runs America’s major unions “have become little more than extensions of the Democratic Party – and the Democratic Party, which in Joe Biden’s Senate days cast itself as the ‘people’s party,’ has become the mouthpiece of white, college-educated elites.
“Workers deserve better, and the TEAM Act would give it to them,” said Rubio.
“Republicans are already building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition to represent America’s working class. Now it is time to deliver for working families by putting them above the special interests that dominate today’s Democratic Party,” he concluded.
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