September 6, 2021
Today is Labor Day, which is sometimes jokingly described as the day when Americans honor work by taking the day off work. I hope you enjoy the holiday with your family, and enjoy this special Labor Day edition of my newsletter.
These days, it’s easy for free market conservatives to distrust labor unions because of their corrupt leaders or one-sided politics (more on that later.) But Labor Day reminds us of that era in history when unions were more interested in protecting workers than in protecting the jobs of union bosses and Democrat politicians. Labor Day observances unofficially began around the turn of the 20th century as a celebration of the union movement, which was fighting truly dangerous and exploitative working conditions, not to mention violent strike-busting tactics. Those kinds of conditions are not beneficial to labor or management.
Workers who get good pay, reasonable hours and a safe workplace are motivated to work harder and make their employers profitable. America’s prosperity and world leader status were the result of shared benefits between labor and management. Recruiting good employees, treating them well, and giving them a stake in the outcome is good business. When labor and management are partners, everyone wins: stockholders, management, workers, and most importantly, consumers.
Before the Chinese unleashed a virus that knocked the wind out of our economy, President Trump wasn't just helping to bring back jobs, but the strong job market and record low unemployment meant companies had to offer higher pay and more benefits to attract good workers. That's how getting government out of the way of job creation benefits everyone. Currently, businesses are offering higher wages and benefits to attract employees only because the government is paying them more not to work than to work, but that’s unsustainable, as our $28.7 trillion national debt proves.
Unfortunately, we are living through a dangerous period in which both the White House and Congress are in the hands of a party that doesn’t understand how businesses work and is mostly interested in using government to exercise raw power. One of the major reasons they are in power is because of the support, monetary and otherwise, of powerful union leaders. These leaders are supposed to be looking out for workers, but does anyone believe that the people they’ve helped install into power are making life better for workers?
A union is supposed to act as the voice of its workers, but too many unions today prioritize advancing the Democrats over that. For instance, many energy and pipeline industry workers supported Trump, but their bosses worked to elect Biden…who, upon taking office, promptly picked up his executive order pen and stabbed them in the back with it, killing the Keystone XL Pipeline project, going to war on domestic energy production, and destroying many good-paying union jobs. Likewise, his open border policy that’s flooding the nation with illegal immigrants will lower job opportunities and drive down wages for low-skilled American workers. This is particularly hard on minority workers, who were finally seeing real wage increases for the first time in decades under Trump.
I also hear these days from a lot of teachers who are horrified at the leftist indoctrination and racist “Critical Race Theory” their unions expect them to teach, but they’re terrified to speak up about it. Is that how today’s unions “give the workers a voice,” by making them afraid to speak up?
Maybe the union bosses think it’s worth it if the Democrats can shove through their PRO Act bill that would essentially unionize the entire economy. Union leaders and Democrats claim that the bill would empower workers and protect their rights, but it would actually force Americans to hand over billions of dollars in union dues to union bosses, along with much of their freedom. It would repeal all state right-to-work laws and destroy the modern freelance/gig/contract worker economy that many workers prefer.
It’s no wonder that when given a choice, many workers stop paying union dues because they believe their unions aren’t doing enough to deserve them and are actively working against their interests and personal beliefs.
I have nothing against unions in theory, and they did a lot of good in the early 20th century to give workers a voice, to protect their safety and to assure fair wages and reasonable working conditions. But like most things embroiled with Democrat politics, they forgot their original mission and became corrupt.
That’s why on Labor Day, we can reflect on the good that unions did a century ago, but mostly, I prefer to think of it as a day to celebrate American workers: the people who put in a hard day’s work, sweating through their clothes on farms and in factories…those who don cop and firefighter uniforms and rush toward danger when the rest of us are running away from it…and the ones who kept working through the pandemic, from the doctors and nurses to the truckers and grocery shelf stackers, to keep the rest of us supplied with the necessities of life. These are the people who deserve a holiday in their honor. So this Labor Day's for you!