Unions Are No Bulwark Against Woke Capitalism—They Endorse It

Many conservatives now love unions, a surprising development considering the Right’s historical wariness towards organized labor. Prominent figures such as Oren Cass and J. D. Vance make a conservative case for unions. “One of the places that strikes me as a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty that has been over­looked, if not out­right den­i­grat­ed, by the lib­er­tar­i­an per­spec­tive is this idea that, look, orga­nized labor is a great thing,” Cass, the head of American Compass, told the left-wing outlet, In These Times.

Some of this is a useful corrective to past and ongoing reflexive conservative union bashing. Too many on the Right denigrated blue-collar workers who, for commonsense purposes, stood up for rights. But this newfound love for unions imagines an organized labor that’s increasingly anachronistic. When Cass thinks of unions, he sees hard-nosed steel workers who are socially conservative and will resist woke capitalism. Increasingly, however, unions are woke white-collar workers who organize precisely to advance woke capitalism.

Google’s union embodies the new form of organized labor. Last week, a few hundred Alphabet employees announced they had unionized. Big Tech isn’t an industry known for unions, so this was a major development. Google engineers aren’t exactly oppressed by their employer, either. The average company software engineer makes $133,278, nearly three times the average American worker’s salary.  

The Google union is very different from the sympathetic conservative’s imagined version. Steel workers organize for better wages and job protections, Alphabet engineers organize to advance left-wing activism at their company. The New York Times reported that its members “said it was primarily an effort to give structure and longevity to activism at Google.” 

“Our goals go beyond the workplace questions of ‘Are people getting paid enough?’ Our issues are going much broader,” union vice chairman Chewy Shaw told the Times. The group is a minority union rather than one that represents all employees. 

The NPR report on the union begins with a worker recounting her harrowing ordeal of not convincing executives to openly advocate defunding the police. The reticence of Google executives to fully embrace every left-wing fad is the primary motivation for the union’s formation.

Naturally, the Alphabet Workers Union’s first action was to demand Google censor President Trump and his supporters in the wake of the Capitol Hill demonstrations. 

“YouTube must no longer be a tool of fascist recruitment and oppression,” the union declared. “Anything less is to countenance deadly violence from Gamergate to Charlottesville, from Christchurch to Washington, D.C., from Jair Bolsonaro to Donald Trump.”

Google workers were not alone in the endeavor. The Association of Flight Attendants demanded that Trump supporters who flew into Washington, D.C. be added to the no-fly list due to their “mob mentality behavior.” 

“Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight,” the union stated

Amazon workers, acting without a formal union, insisted their company remove Parler from its services. “We cannot be complicit in more bloodshed and violent attacks on our democracy,” tweeted Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. Sure enough, Amazon removed the right-leaning alternative to Twitter from its servers.

The more traditional unions aren’t immune from woke causes, either. Several unions endorsed Black Lives Matter. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, arguably the most important voice of organized labor, wrote an entire op-ed last summer on why unions must fight to make sure “black trans lives matter.”

Most unions also back mass immigration even though it hurts the workers they aim to represent. The entirety of organized labor backed amnesty in 2013. “Enacting meaningful immigration reform is critical to our long-term efforts to lift labor standards and empower workers, and the labor movement will continue to stand in solidarity with all working people,” declares the AFL-CIO’s mission statement on immigration. This is a far cry from the days when organized labor opposed mass immigration to protect the American worker.

All of these positions signal organized labor’s total obeisance to the Democratic Party. Organized labor understands it’s a member of the political Left, and it’s not about to sacrifice the power that affords them by deviating from the party line on immigration and “racial justice.” The interests of their members be damned.

It’s true that many of the blue-collar workers who belong to these unions don’t agree with these policies. They know mass immigration threatens their wages and jobs. They oppose political correctness and support traditional values. But their opinions don’t matter to the leadership of the national organizations. In fact, most union members work in the public sector, not in typical blue-collar jobs in the private sector. Government bureaucrats are a far cry from humble steelworkers. 

The Google union represents a new mission for organized labor. It’s no longer the mouthpiece for workers. Instead, it acts as a more zealous HR department. Rather than helping their fellow workers, they’ll make sure they’re fired if they use the wrong pronouns or vote for the wrong candidates. The Google union will push their left-leaning employer and make sure it is even more woke and more insane. The hardest hit by these efforts will be the ordinary employees who just want to labor in peace and not devote all their time to left-wing activism.

While individual union members can be our allies, unions themselves are not our friends. The one exception may be police unions, which continue to stand bravely against the dictates of Black Lives Matter. Unlike the rest of organized labor, police unions focus on defending their members instead of supporting leftism. 

Unfortunately, the rest of organized labor is compromised by its allegiance to the political Left. And, if the Google Union becomes the norm, they can make life a lot worse for the American worker. 

Republicans should reach out to the working man, but not to his union.

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