The Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory union fees for government workers was not only a blow to unions. It will also hit hard at a vast network of groups dedicated to advancing liberal policies and candidates.
Some of these groups work for immigrants…
If the purpose of a labor union is primarily to increase wages for its members, why would they try to increase competition at the lower end of the labor market? (see “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers” by a Harvard economist for a summary of the literature).
Is the theory that the latest crop of immigrants and their children will never achieve the level of education, skill, and connections necessary to do the kind of work performed by members of current unions?
Or that compensation for union members is determined only by what local, state, and federal governments can afford to pay? That the overall size of the labor pool is irrelevant? (for example, unionized workers in a nearby town of Methuen, Massachusetts just got a raise, e.g., from $157,000 per year for a police captain up to $440,735; median household income in the town is $72,631) I wonder if they are banking on the inherent assymetry in public worker union negotiation. The union members bargain for money that will be paid to them and they will get to spend. The government officials on the other side are spending someone else’s money.
Or that union members are mostly government workers and more immigrants means a larger government and more opportunity to expand the union? Immigrants and their children are more likely to be on welfare. There are 30 unions getting money out of the New York City Housing Authority and one plumber made $369,152 in 2016. As the population expands we will need to build more free housing and hire more union members to administer and maintain the free-to-residents houses. Unions of nurses lobby for increased Medicaid funding (example). More immigrants means more people on Medicaid. How many undocumented immigrants will earn a bachelor’s degree and qualify as registered nurses so as to compete with current union members?
Maybe the answer is that union members (like I used to be!) are better-than-average people and they want to help immigrants out of altruism. If so, why does their altruism stop at the U.S. border? If they simply want to help non-citizens, why wouldn’t unions support aid groups that operate in poor countries?
It makes sense to me, as a graduate of Econ 101, that an employer of low-skill workers would advocate for more immigration (especially if middle-class taxpayers are going to pay for those workers’ housing, health care, and food!). But Cesar Chavez was anti-immigration for most of his career as a labor union official. From ABC:
From when he co-founded United Farm Workers in 1962 with Dolores Huerta, Chavez took a hard line on illegal immigration. He thought employers would use undocumented workers as strike breakers, and that temporary workers would undermine the wages of Mexican American residents and citizens. He even reported some undocumented workers to immigration authorities, Gutiérrez writes.
(He later modified this position, but it is unclear whether there was an economic rationale or only a sentimental one that offered no tangible benefit to union members at the time.)