Basic Briefing

The Unions and Labor Debate

The debate on Unions and Labor focuses on the interactions between employers and employees. How can workers be protected without harming business? What is the role of unions today? Should the US raise the minimum wage? Are OSHA regulations comprehensive enough to protect workers?

Official Democratic position

The Democratic Party opposes “…the attacks on collective bargaining that Republican governors and state legislatures are mounting in states around the country.” The Party believes “…we need to make sure our labor laws are modernized and keep pace with changes in our economy.” The Party supports the adoption and enforcement of comprehensive safety standards.

Official Republican position

“We salute the Republican governors and State legislatures who have saved their States from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.” The Republican Party supports a National Right-To-Work law. The Party opposes the Project Labor Agreements and the Davis-Bacon Act. The Party supports enforcing the Hobbs Act and opposes “…OSHA’s overreaching regulation agenda.”

Institutional framework

The Department of Labor (DOL) enforces federal labor laws related to safety and wages, issues unemployment insurance benefits, and collects some economic statistics. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the DOL, which is responsible for establishing and enforcing workplace regulations.

Most labor unions today are in the public sector and are affiliated with either the AFL-CIO or the Change to Win Federation. Union leaders negotiate contracts, try to change workplace conditions, and represent workers in disputes with employers. 24 states have Right-To-Work laws, which prohibits requiring employees to join a labor union and pay union dues.

Most Vocal on Unions and Labor

These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.

Richard Neal | Candidate for 1st Congressional District, primary (2018) in Massachusetts (MA) | Crowdpac Trey Gowdy | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, primary (2018) in South Carolina (SC) | Crowdpac Rosa DeLauro | Candidate for 3rd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Connecticut (CT) | Crowdpac Edward Whitfield | 1st Congressional District (2014) in Kentucky (KY) | Crowdpac Scott DesJarlais | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Tennessee (TN) | Crowdpac Sam Johnson | Candidate for 3rd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Martha Roby | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Alabama (AL) | Crowdpac John Kline | 2nd Congressional District (2014) in Minnesota (MN) | Crowdpac Bennie Thompson | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Mississippi (MS) | Crowdpac Lucille Roybal-Allard | Candidate for 40th Congressional District, primary (2018) in California (CA) | Crowdpac

The Spectrum on Unions and Labor

These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.

Relevant Committees


American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) - The largest federation of trade unions in the US

Competitive Enterprise Institute - An organization advocating principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty