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 believes it should be “easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions. We will fight to pass laws that direct the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union if a simple majority of eligible workers sign valid authorization cards, as well as laws that bring companies to the negotiating table.” The Party opposes right-to-work laws.

Official Republican position

The Republican Party believes all workers “must be free to accept raises and rewards without veto power from union officials. All unionized workers should be able to find out what is going on in their union trust funds and in their executive compensation.” The Party supports “the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws and for a national law to protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.”

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.

Bernie Sanders | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Vermont (VT) | Crowdpac Eric Swalwell | Candidate for 15th Congressional District, 2018 in California (CA) | Crowdpac Carol Shea-Porter | 1st Congressional District, 2016 in New Hampshire (NH) | Crowdpac Gwen Graham | 2nd Congressional District, 2014 in Florida (FL) | Crowdpac Ben Lujan | Candidate for 3rd Congressional District, 2018 in New Mexico (NM) | Crowdpac Luis Gutierrez | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, 2018 in Illinois (IL) | Crowdpac Tammy Baldwin | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Wisconsin (WI) | Crowdpac Matt Cartwright | Candidate for 8th Congressional District, 2018 in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac Bennie Thompson | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, 2018 in Mississippi (MS) | Crowdpac Lucille Roybal-Allard | Candidate for 40th Congressional District, 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