A coalition of more than 600 business groups across the country is condemning a Democratic proposal in Congress to make compulsory union dues tax deductible.
“Requiring taxpayers to subsidize union dues as part of the Democratic Senate budget plan favors unions and their political allies over workers and small businesses,” Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) Chairman Kristen Swearingen said in a statement.
“Congress should focus on policies that support all working Americans, including those that increase individual deductions related to job training, rather than pushing tax breaks for unions that support and fund Democratic politicians and causes.
“Rewriting our nation’s tax code solely to benefit Big Labor bosses will not help businesses and workers across the country get back on their feet after the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Swearingen was referring to media reports earlier this week that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had agreed to include tax credits for union dues in the massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation measure now before Congress.
The deductible union dues provision is intended by Democrats as one of several “pro-worker incentives” in the bill that faces an uncertain future in both the Senate and the House.
Union membership has steadily declined for several decades. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show only 6.3 percent of all private-sector workers are union members. In the public sector, 34 percent are members of unions.
A major factor in the decline of union membership in recent decades has been the continuing growth in popularity of right-to-work laws that guarantee workers the right to keep a job without having to join a union.
There are currently 27 right-to-work states.
The tax-deductible union dues proposal is one of a multitude that Democrats have advanced since retaking the House majority in the 2018 congressional elections and the White House in the 2020 presidential election.
Most of the pro-union proposals are included in the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act 2021,” or PRO Act, that passed the House earlier this year and remains pending in the Senate.
As previously reported by The Epoch Times, the PRO Act vastly expands the power of the National Labor Relations Board to use its regulatory authority to reinforce organized labor’s efforts to expand its membership after decades of decline.
It would also nullify the 27 state right-to-work laws presently on the books, and enable unions to collect mandatory dues from employees who don’t wish to join a trade organization.
“If enacted into law, the PRO Act will likely result in increases to the private union member rate. This will increase the number of dues-paying members who fund labor organizations, increasing labor organization receipts and enabling unions to increase their disbursements,” noted a study by the Institute for the American Worker (IAW).
Democrats control the 50-50 Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) being able to break ties. At least two Democratic senators would have to vote against the bill in order for Senate Republicans to defeat it.
The only other hope opponents of the proposal have is if the Senate Parliamentarian rules the union dues deductions aren’t germane to the budget reconciliation process.
That prospect seems unlikely because the Parliamentarian earlier this year allowed Senate Democrats to proceed in an unprecedented manner in the budget process, allowing a second bill this session to move forward under reconciliation. In the House, Democrats enjoy a razor-thin margin over Republicans of only eight votes, 220–212.
Stiff opposition among Republicans is certain, as seen in recent statements cited by the CDW statement.
“Democrats are trying to use their sham ‘budget’ deal to enact PRO Act policies. The federal government should not subsidize union membership,” Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) wrote in a recent tweet.
“After seeing UAW leaders get recently sentenced for corruption, now Senate D’s reward labor w/ tax breaks for union dues? C’mon. This is the equivalent of tax dollars being funneled to Big Labor to fund their political activities,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) wrote on Twitter.