Democrats tuck reward for union membership inside $3.5T spending plan

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House Democrats are planning to use President Biden‘s $3.5 trillion social welfare package to boost one of their biggest allies: organized labor.

Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee have tucked a deduction for union dues inside the 881-page tax proposal they say will ensure Mr. Biden‘s big-spending legislation is fully funded. The provision, as currently written, would allow members of a labor organization to deduct $250 in union dues on their taxes.

The inclusion has Republicans crying foul, with some even arguing it amounts to an improper political payoff.

“This union dues tax deduction is a blatant handout to one of the Democrats’ biggest political backers, big labor, a group that’s already well-funded thanks to its unique power to collect dues from workers who would lose their jobs for refusing to pay,” said Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.

Mr. Mourad said the move was “nakedly political,” as evidenced by the fact the deduction only applies to full-fledged union members. Workers who are forced to pay union dues because of state and local laws but who are not actually members would not be eligible.  

Democrats dismiss such criticism, saying the deduction is meant to reward workers rather than union bosses.

For years, union membership has been on the decline nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union enrollment dropped by more than half between 1983 and 2019, falling from 20.1% to 10.3%.

Despite the decline, Mr. Biden allied himself strongly with organized labor while running for the White House in 2020.

“In my White House, you’ll always be welcome. You’ll always be welcome. Labor will always be welcome,” Mr. Biden said last week during an event with labor leaders. “You know, you’ve heard me say many times: I intend to be the most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history.

Since taking office, the president has championed a staunch union agenda, including pushing for the PRO-Act.

The legislation, which faces long odds in Congress, would overhaul labor laws, giving unions greater power to organize and collectively bargain with employers. It would also reclassify independent contractors as regular employees, bound by conventional workplace protections.

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