With inflation sky-high, workers’ real earnings falling, and interest rates expected to soar over the next few months, national employment numbers that continue to show, at least for now, a rebound from the steep, COVID-19-related recession of 2020 are practically the only economic indicator Joe Biden can still point to as evidence that his less than a year-and-a-half-old presidency hasn’t been a disaster for America.
But judging by his recent public statements, President Biden remains as determined as ever to destroy the current Right to Work protections in 27 states that are the main reason the U.S. employment picture isn’t totally dark in 2022.
In states that have Right to Work laws on the books prohibiting the termination of employees for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to a union they don’t want, and never asked for, aggregate employment is now roughly 880,000 higher than it was in February 2020, the last month before the COVID-19 lockdowns began, according to the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) household survey.
Meanwhile, in the 23 remaining forced-dues states as a group, DOL data show employment is still nearly 1.5 million below what it was pre-COVID-19.
Painfully slow employment growth is a long-term problem for states where firing workers for refusal to bankroll a union to whose monopoly-bargaining power they are subject remains permissible. Among the 22 states that had Right to Work laws in effect for the entire decade from 2011 to 2021, employment grew by an impressive 13.2%
Meanwhile, aggregate employment in the 23 states that still lack Right to Work statutes or constitutional amendments grew by just 5.7%, or less than half the Right to Work average.
No wonder elected officials who are genuinely committed to expanding employment opportunities for all Americans are currently fighting to build Capitol Hill support for S.406/H.R.1275, also known as the National Right to Work Act. This much-needed reform would ensure employees in all 50 states have the freedom to choose for themselves whether or not a union deserves their financial support. It would accomplish this end simply by repealing all the provisions in federal labor law that authorize compulsory union dues and fees.
But Biden has made it clear, again and again, that his plan is to take federal labor policy in the opposite direction.
During his 2019-20 campaign for the White House, Biden made his intentions plain in videotaped remarks addressed towards Teamster bosses and militants in Las Vegas: “We should change the federal law [so] there is no Right to Work allowed anywhere in the country.”
Since shortly after he entered the Oval Office early last year, Biden’s weapon of choice for effectively abolishing the Right to Work has been S.420/H.R.842, cynically mislabeled by proponents as the “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act.
The common aim of this enormous bill’s many provisions is to make herding employees into a union as easy as pushing a button. And the most damaging “PRO-Act” provision of all states that the extraction of forced fees from employees for union mon…