With the AFL-CIO announcing plans to help immigrants last week, some are arguing it’s all just a thinly veiled effort to gain more members.
“President Obama’s executive actions were the right thing to do, but we’re not done yet,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement. “This progress can be stalled but it cannot be stopped. With the launching of the ‘We Rise!’ initiative we are moving forward.”
The union argues the initiative will help immigrants gain a voice and rights in their work place by reaching, mobilizing, and organizing them. Others, however, see this plan as less about helping workers and more about preventing a union’s extinction.
According to Pew Research, about 3.9 million immigrants are estimated to have been eligible for President Obama’s amnesty. The amnesty, which was done by an executive order, was met with praise from the left and criticism by the right.
“As American workers increasingly reject unionization, we’ve seen Big Labor make a deliberate effort to target immigrants to bolster their forced unionism ranks, with union bosses spending American worker’s forced dues to do it,” Patrick Semmens, the vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Mandatory union dues or fees are required in many states as a condition of employment if the company is under a collective bargaining agreement. Even if a worker decides not to be in a union, they still must pay a fee. This allows unions to put funds towards organizing and publicity campaigns.
“It’s ironic because forced unionism is completely contrary to both freedom and the creation of jobs, and yet when you look back through American history, American freedoms and job opportunities have been what has made America so attractive to immigrants,” Semmens also noted.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, has also been putting fourth programs to attract the now legal immigrants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), union membership has declined significantly in recent years.
“The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million, was little different from 2013,” the BLS report noted. “In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.”