The Republicans Just Passed a Platform That Would Eviscerate Workers’ Rights

Victoria Albert

The platform dismisses the widespread call for a nationwide minimum wage (Erik Drost/ Flickr)

The Republican Party’s official 2016 platform, released this week, proudly states the greatest asset of the American economy is the hard working American.”

The writers must have a twisted sense of humor.

In a not particularly unexpected move, the party platform eviscerates the hard working American,” denying workers of their right to unionize while targeting their most vulnerable communities. 

Grand old union busters

Perhaps the strongest anti-union feature of the Republican Party’s platform is the call for national right-to-work (RTW) legislation. RTW laws, the bane of unions nationwide, prevent unions from collecting fees from non-members, who nevertheless benefit from unions’ grievance and bargaining services.

The platform claims that these laws will protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce,” but in fact, they do just the opposite. According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, workers in RTW states make $5,791 (12 percent) less per year than workers without RTW, and are far less likely to be insured.

More importantly, RTW weakens unions by forcing them to serve those who don’t pay for their services. When Michigan approved a right-to-work law in 2012, its union membership dropped by 48,000, despite the addition of 44,000 new jobs.

The platform also targets both unionized Transportation Security Administration employees and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s presence in Native American communities, with Republicans pledging to correct (the) mistake” of permitting TSA employees to organize, and claiming to defend tribal governments from the Democrats’ egregious” pro-union influence. 

A government for the people

We pledge to make the government work for the people,” reads the platform, not the other way around.” Yet for the country’s most financially vulnerable — the 3.9 percent working for minimum wage — the Republicans offer neither support nor protection.

The platform dismisses the widespread call for a nationwide minimum wage, asserting that the matter should be handled on a state and local level,” and pledges to repeal Davis-Bacon, a 1931 act mandating that federal construction projects pay union-level (read: living) wages.

It has even less mercy for the undocumented. The platform echoes Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric with its total rejection of amnesty for undocumented workers. It also supports his proposal for building a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border, with the intent of keep(ing) dangerous aliens off our streets.”

In the preamble to the platform, Republicans claim their plan lays out — in clear language — the path to making America great and united again.” Yet if the Republicans’ path to greatness is to be built on the backs of American workers, it is a greatness of which we should all be wary. 

Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Victoria Albert was a Summer 2016 editorial intern at In These Times. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at New York University. She tweets at @victoria_alb3.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.