Biden’s Inept Economic Policies Indirectly Causing Strikes, Unionizing Efforts

COMMENTARY Jobs and Labor

Biden’s Inept Economic Policies Indirectly Causing Strikes, Unionizing Efforts

Oct 19th, 2021 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Elizabeth Hanke

Research Fellow, Labor Economics and Policy

Elizabeth is a Research Fellow for Labor Economics and Policy at The Heritage Foundation.
Workers picket outside of John Deere Harvester Works facility on October 14, 2021 in East Moline, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Businesses have become helpless in protecting workers from the impact of increased government presence, leading to worker frustrations.

With inflation up 5.4% year over year in September, workers’ current wages are insufficient to compensate for their loss in purchasing power.

Worker strikes and unionization efforts would be unnecessary if the Biden administration would just let the free market work.

President Joe Biden’s pro-union, anti-business economic policies are not faring well. Economic mismanagement has turned the labor market into mayhem with consequences far worse than what many Americans imagined.

Firms are experiencing greater government-imposed regulatory burdens and barriers to employment, potentially leaving them worse off than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have become helpless in protecting workers from the impact of increased government presence, leading to worker frustrations.

The recent upsurge in union strikes and workers seeking unionization is problematic, but might be just a natural response to worker scarcity, lack of employment stability, and Biden’s overall mishandling of the economy.

The current state of the economy has made businesses vulnerable, forcing them to rely on—and expect more from—employees.

Worker organizing efforts generally indicate poor working conditions, issues with management, or the perception that workers are not adequately valued. The recent wave of union strikes over the past several weeks might be indicative of overall difficult working conditions in the U.S. economy and not necessarily attributable to management issues at individual firms.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the union membership rate reached 10.8% in 2020. Although unions account for a small percentage of the U.S. workforce, and in many respects have outlived their usefulness, workers may choose to join a union as a response to the economic conditions created by the Biden administration.

For the first time in 35 years, more than 10,000 workers at Deere & Co. went on strike, demanding higher wages and greater benefits. An agreement has not been reached between Deere and the United Auto Workers union.

With inflation up 5.4% year over year in September, workers’ current wages are insufficient to compensate for their loss in purchasing power. The rise in consumer prices, partially stemming from product shortages at backlogged California ports, erodes the standard of living for workers across America.

Deere workers are not the only ones to argue for higher wages and better compensation. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached a provisional deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, alluding to inadequate compensation, long workdays, and limited time for bathroom breaks.

In early October, about 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Tennessee went on strike, citing long work hours. Starbucks workers in upstate New York are also seeking unionization, aiming for all 20 corporate-owned stores in Buffalo.

The workers all share common ground among these strikes and organizing efforts; namely, unfair compensation and poor working conditions.

Misguided economic policy and overall mismanagement of the economy have led to sharp increases in consumer prices, supply disruptions, and labor shortages that resulted in longer working hours. Those factors have detrimental effects on American workers, leading to employee dissatisfaction.

As workers struggle to survive these economic hardships, they are increasingly considering unionization as a form of relief.

Private firms have also been hurt by these misguided economic policies, limiting their ability to provide stable working conditions and competitive salaries for their employees.

The Biden administration has increased government intervention and regulations, hurting privately owned businesses that may find it difficult to remain solvent. That includes vaccine mandates for private sector workers, which will further hinder businesses from achieving a rapid post-pandemic recovery.

As a union proponent, Biden appears to have successfully met his goal of increasing unionization in the U.S. economy. Unlike conventional methods, Biden was “successful” by implementing policies that reduce market freedom, reignite inflation, and threaten American workers.

Worker strikes and unionization efforts would be unnecessary if the Biden administration would just let the free market work.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal