Salvo 06.22.2022 6 minutes

Unions Don’t Serve Employees against Woke Management


Woke commissars cannot be allowed to terrorize employees.

“If you’re looking for a job, or if you’re trying to keep a job, maybe—just maybe—think about what you’re putting on social media,” cooed a Canadian job recruiter at workers protesting against COVID vaccine mandates. “Recruiters talk,” she went on. “What that means is that if you need a job? You might not get one. If you wanna keep a job? You might not get to do that.”

It is not only in Canada that woke commissars are breathing down workers’ necks. Nick Williams, a since-terminated American Express #1 sales employee, released explosive testimony about how he, a white man, was interrogated and then unceremoniously fired simply for refusing to serve a black female client who berated him aggressively, then complained to the company’s woke CEO about his “racism.” Perhaps it’s not surprising, since American Express has been offering financial incentives to hiring managers who fire white employees and replacing them with candidates who better fit in the “racial equity” category. Unfortunately, Williams’ case is not isolated. Woke oversight is leaving more and more people uncertain about their futures, fearful that they might be fired for the slightest transgression against the latest code of etiquette.

But no union has dared to address the increasing problem of discrimination against high-performing employees like Nick. It’s not even on their radar. Instead of fighting for workplace safety and human decency, unions are more focused on political ideologies and catering to the “woke” mob. For instance, when the national debate concerning Critical Race Theory reached its boiling point in 2021, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) focused on scrutinizing teachers, rather than protecting them.

Randi Weingarten, AFT’s president, wrote that “#CriticalRaceTheory is not taught in K-12 schools,” even as pro-CRT education consultants were haranguing teachers for “having a low level of racial literacy” and all but accusing them of being racist toward their own students. The National Education Association, another major teacher’s union, threw their weight behind administrative gag rules that punished teachers who failed to call students by their preferred pronouns or allowed them to use whichever bathroom they pleased. In the name of inclusion, the NEA stripped teachers’ rights to free speech.

This alliance between unions and woke management is hardly limited to teachers’ unions. Oren Cass, the director of pro-union think tank American Compass, believes that “as unions have less and less to do with the economy, they’ve had more and more to do with politics.” He writes: “By a three-to-one margin, potential union members…say they would prefer a worker organization that focuses only on workplace issues to one that is also engaged in national political issues.” Yet unions like the AFL-CIO, the largest in the nation, has made transgender rights a clear priority, writing in a statement: “The AFL-CIO Must Fight for Trans Lives Inside and Outside the Labor Movement.” But why? Why is the AFL-CIO’s job to do LGBTQ activism when workers pay you to fight for better working conditions?

Unions were initially formed in this country to address harsh, dangerous working conditions. Factories, which often employed women and children, lacked what we today would consider obvious safety precautions. Early unions like the Knights of Labor, which first gained ground among Pennsylvania coal miners and other low-skilled laborers, advocated for an eight-hour workday and to end child labor. Leaders relied on collective bargaining to contract various agreements concerning salary, hours, benefits, and job safety policies.

But very early on, unions showed a tendency to fall victim to divisive racial politics. In the late 19th century, for example, labor leaders in California were concerned about Chinese competition, so they pushed the Chinese Exclusion Act—but the radicalization of anti-Chinese sentiment led to the brutal lynchings of many Chinese workers during that same period. Nowadays unions have different, but equally damaging, racial axes to grind. Instead of protecting workers, they have aligned themselves as co-conspirators with politicized management ideologies.

Today’s employees might be less subject to excruciatingly long shifts and unlivable salaries. But that doesn’t mean their workplaces are without hazards. Employees are forced to constantly walk on glass so as to not stray from their company’s woke agenda. Even when they toe the line, sometimes they will still face promotion and management challenges simply for being the wrong color or at the wrong end of a woke HR person’s temper. Despite the consequences, employees must choose to stand up to these divisive policies. It is the only way to truly save the modern workplace.

There is a growing need for a new organization committed to protecting and advancing worker’s interests against the rising tide of managerial wokeness. Color Us United (CUU) is an organization committed to pursuing a society that takes race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other attribute out of the equation in people’s professional lives. Earlier this month, CUU launched the Labor Day Listen Down initiative, which offers employees of woke companies the opportunity to anonymously submit statements concerning their experiences. The initiative aims to encourage employees to stand up for themselves, for their rights and beliefs, while acknowledging that they are not alone in their fight.

Creating a safe, healthy workplace was once the mandate of labor unions. But that vision is no more. Instead, such basic workplace decency standards are now something employees are forced to fight for. Organizations like CUU will take up the mantle and represent employees’ desires for a decent and harmonious workplace against their woke employers. Wokeness has no place in professional settings and it’s time we let these corporations know.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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