The Republican Party seeks to rebrand itself as the party of the working class, but its lawmakers remain as hostile as ever towards any kind of organized labor.
After years of struggle, labor unions now have greater public approval than at any time in more than 50 years. Nearly all Republican lawmakers in Congress oppose proposals that would make it easier for workers to unionize.
One hundred and eleven Republican House members and 21 senators are co-sponsoring a bill that would weaken unions by letting workers in all 50 states opt out of paying any fees to the unions that represent them.
Many young workers are flocking to unions. Among them, Starbucks workers, Apple store workers, Amazon warehouse workers, museum workers, grad students, and more are unionizing. Yet Republican lawmakers often deride unions as woke, leftwing, and obsolete.
Congressional Democrats say there is increased urgency to enact the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which would make it easier for workers to unionize. It passed last year in the House, but has gotten hung up in the Senate due to the Republican filibuster, and is expected to certainly fail if the GOP retakes the Senate after the midterms.
The PRO Act remains the Democrats’ overwhelming legislative priority for helping unions. The act would ban employers’ captive audience meetings and create substantial penalties for corporations that break the law when fighting unionization.
Republicans denounce the legislation, vigorously opposing a provision that would override the right-to-work laws enacted in 27 states, laws that allow workers to opt-out of paying union dues.
The Senate Republicans’ policy committee has slammed the legislation, saying it would undermine worker freedom, “heavily tilt the scales in favor of labor” and “curb workers’ choices, threaten jobs, and increase costs on employers.”
Republicans did not always use to oppose unions. Two decades ago, there were 30 Republicans in the House who were union-friendly. But now there’s a mere handful.
Part of this is because the Republican Party has billionaires and corporate donors, who frown upon any kind of pro-union. The rich donors see unions as a bother that reduces corporate profits since unions bolster workers’ rights.
So while the Republican Party is trying to rebrand itself as the party for the working class, many Republican lawmakers treat unions as the enemy.