Biden Envisions Giving Unions 365 Labor Days a Year

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

Americans can still make one last trip to the beach, barbecue in the back yard or simply kick back and take a three-day break from work over the coming Labor Day weekend.


Just don’t think of it as a celebration of unions.

Given the scandalous number of taxpayer-funded freebies already handed out to organized labor in just the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency, they should be thanking you, not the other way around.

In return for receiving more campaign contributions from labor organizations than any other single funding category, Biden vowed to become the “most union-friendly president you ever saw.”

Regrettably, it seems to be the one promise the president’s kept in spades.

Among the lowlights:

  • The same day President Biden was sworn into office, he fired the National Labor Relations Board general counsel in an unprecedented move to pack the NLRB — the federal agency charged with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices in the public sector — with union stooges;
  • He installed union cronies to run the Department of Labor’s independent oversight agency;
  • He called for the passage of the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would effectively kill right-to-work provisions in the public workplace, forcing millions of government employees to join and/or support a union as a condition of employment;
  • His American Rescue Plan steered millions in COVID-19 relief dollars to previously ineligible labor unions;
  • He reversed a rule banning mandatory deductions for union dues taken from the paychecks of millions of Medicaid-compensated homecare providers;
  • He signed into law the deceptively named “Inflation Reduction Act” that will hire 87,000 new officers at the Internal Revenue Service — who can be expected to pay union dues while harassing the president’s political rivals; and
  • His Office of Personnel Management is helping federal agencies identify and access personal contact information for non-union employees so they can be “recruited” into union membership.

The list goes on — and there’s undoubtedly much more to come — but you get the idea. Whatever marginal workplace improvements the American labor movement can claim to have championed in the early years of the 20th Century, modern unions have long since abandoned any pretext of advocating on behalf of workers and, instead, serve almost exclusively as the funding arm of the extreme political left.

To cite perhaps the most egregious example, the National Education Association (NEA) — by far the largest teachers’ union in America — last year spent more than $183 million on politics, lobbying, and contributions to ideological groups, but only $32 million on representational activities.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The union spent $71 million on payments to its officers and staff, plus an additional $56.5 million on benefits for those officers and staff.

These figures don’t even include the non-staff attorneys, accountants, and consultants, or even the $61 million spent just on overhead and keeping the lights on in the NEA’s gorgeous ivory palace in Washington, D.C.

All told, of the $615 million NEA spent last year, representational activities accounted for a mere five percent — roughly what the average American family spends on its cell phone bill.

For this union bosses want credit for an annual holiday?

But despite — or perhaps because of — Biden’s generosity with someone else’s tax dollars, only 10.3 percent of America’s wage-and-salary workers are currently paying dues to a union.


By comparison, around 34 percent of those working in the public sector — including teachers — are unionized. But that number, too, is declining thanks to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended (on paper, at least) forced membership and/or dues deductions in almost half the country.

Biden, to no one’s surprise, is an outspoken critic of the ruling, believing workers should be forced to choose between keeping their jobs and supporting an organization that cares more about advancing a liberal political agenda than advocating for improved pay, benefits, and working conditions.

According to the Department of Labor’s own website, the Labor Day holiday is “… dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

What it’s in no way intended to be is a tribute to organized labor, its methods, or its leaders.

It never has been and, given the depths to which unions — and the public’s perception of them — have sunk, it’s less appropriate today than it ever has been.

If we think of unions at all on Labor Day, the holiday should present us with an annual opportunity to scrutinize the corrupting influence of this powerful, well-financed special interest on our governing processes.


In any case, considering all Joe Biden has already given his union allies — and plans to give them in the second half of his term — a more fitting Labor Day observance would involve a one-day holiday from them rather than for them.


Jeff Rhodes is the vice president of news and information for the Freedom Foundation.


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