The Stew Reporting on government and politics

Conservatives for labor?

Politics | Republicans call for solidarity with workers
by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 9/10/20, 04:55 pm

A group of conservatives wants to repair the estrangement between labor unions and the Republican Party, which have had a turbulent relationship since the late 19th century. GOP Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower worked with unions to create more protections for workers, but the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, has endorsed every Democratic presidential candidate since its founding in 1955.

This week, politicians and leaders, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, wrote an open letter to the conservative movement and labor unions urging cooperation.

“As we advocate for owners and managers in their pursuit of profit and celebrate the enormous benefits their efforts can generate for us all, we must accord the same respect to the concerns of workers and ensure that they, too, have a seat at the table,” they wrote.

The conservatives said many modern unions have corrupted their original purpose of protecting workers to become partisan organizations. The letter makes the case for organizations that represent workers’ interests allow for discussion between corporate decision-makers and their employees. The writers said those private conversations will have a better effect on the labor market than government intervention.

“We consider solidarity indispensable to the health of our communities and the nation,” the group wrote.

Despite the hostility between union heads and Republicans, union members, though largely Democratic, have been more receptive to President Donald Trump’s “America first” proposals. Trump garnered the highest number of union household votes for a GOP candidate since President Ronald Reagan, The Washington Post reported, citing 2016 exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research. The Democratic share fell from its average of about 60 percent to 51 as Trump flipped the traditionally blue Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to win the presidency.

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Kyle Ziemnick

Kyle is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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