President Trump made noise on Labor Day by criticizing American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka.
Trump’s bombastic criticism of the labor leader came after Trumka slammed Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada in a previous interview on Fox News. Although this attack may have seemed petty, Trump did raise a valid point about the political nature of unions in one of his tweets.
Trump specifically said, “No wonder unions are losing so much. The workers will vote for me in 2020 (lowest unemployment, most jobs ever), and should stop paying exorbitant $Dues, not worth it!” The president is on the money about the “exorbitant” union dues. According to research from the National Right to Work Committee, 10 million workers are still forced to pay union dues in America. This totals out to $9 billion in forced due payments on an annual basis. These dues often fill up the coffers of Big Labor bosses and the politicians that they lobby to get elected.
….and watched. NAFTA is the worst Trade Deal ever made – terrible for labor – and Richard let it stand. No wonder unions are losing so much. The workers will vote for me in 2020 (lowest unemployment, most jobs ever), and should stop paying exorbitant $Dues, not worth it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2019
The American worker is ultimately the one who gets the short end of the stick in this situation. Not only is forced unionization a form of political rent-seeking, but it also violates a cherished principle of American civil liberties — the freedom of association. For that reason, the right-to-work movement has endeavored to make compulsory union payments no longer a condition of employment. In doing so, workers would not be coerced into joining a union. On top of that, states where genuine labor freedom exists also tend to see improved economic outcomes in terms of increased employment, more affordable cost of living, and more disposable income.
Ironically, the founder of the AFL-CIO, Samuel Gompers, stressed the value of voluntary action. He stated, “I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty – the principles of voluntarism. No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.” Where Gompers’ message of voluntarism has been followed, there has been greater economic prosperity.
For America’s workers, labor freedom, not coercion, is the key to improving their standard of living. Trump is on the mark this time.