Joe Biden, Union Buster
5 min read
fairly difficult
His proposals would eliminate large numbers of union jobs in manufacturing.
Former Vice President Joe Biden greets workers during a campaign stop at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Mack assembly plant in Detroit, Mich., March 10, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A mid all the confusion caused by the coronavirus and the usual noise of the campaign season, Joe Biden wants to make one thing clear: He is focused on helping the middle class, particularly union workers. "Middle Class Joe" wants to "build back better" from the pandemic by ensuring "the future is made in America," particularly by "newly empowered labor unions." His desire to support unions is so transparently sincere that it is curious he has chosen to run on policies that may well bring disaster to them — at least in the private sector.


To be sure, some of Biden's plans should bring more workers into unions — for a time. He pledges to stuff his economic-recovery legislation with rules that will reclassify gig workers as employees, effectively end secret ballots for votes on unionizing job sites, raise minimum wages to make union laborers cost-competitive, and neuter state and local "right to work" laws. These have been high on many union organizers' wish lists for years and would make a Biden administration much more union-friendly than was Obama's. Most or all of these union gains, however, are likely to be effectively canceled out by the effect of other policies on his agenda that would destroy the very jobs he will have spent so much taxpayer money to create.

The Trump administration's focus on trade has drawn the nation's attention away from a major contributor to the decline of blue-collar manufacturing work in the United States: technological change. Manufacturing's share of the total U.S. economy has barely changed since the end of World War II, but manufacturing employment plummeted from one-third of the workforce to less than one-tenth. Unlike in the long era after the industrial revolution took off — a period in which economies…
Mike Watson
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