By Andrew Stiles
September 10, 2013 4:33 PM
National Review Online

One of the largest union coalitions in the country will soon allow non-union workers and activist groups to join its ranks, the Hill reports:

The AFL-CIO on Monday opened the door to becoming a group that is more representative of the left than of its members.

Facing what AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka called a “crisis” of membership, officials took the dramatic step at their annual convention of adopting a resolution that invites anyone in the country to join, regardless of union affiliation.

The move faced stiff resistance from union officials who fear the AFL-CIO’s primary mission of representing workers will be left behind if the federation becomes a mouthpiece for liberal and progressive groups.

Despite the resistance, the resolution was adopted without a single “nay” vote being heard in the convention hall.

The move hardly comes as a surprise, given the steep decline in union membership (and dues) in recent years. Comprising just 11.3 percent of the work force, the number of union workers is at its lowest level since the 1930s.

The change is also in keeping with the AFL-CIO’s newfound support for comprehensive immigration reform, something it has traditionally opposed, most recently in 2007, when it helped derail the effort led by President George W. Bush. The union organization has thrown its full weight behind the Gang of Eight legislation, after striking a deal with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on guest workers, an issue that had been the driving force behind Democratic opposition to immigration reform in the past.

Democratic opposition to the Gang of Eight of bill, on the other hand, has been largely non-existent. Every single Democratic senator voted for the legislation, and only Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), an avowed socialist, had any real criticism for the bill (he argued for reining in the guest-worker program). The AFL-CIO’s backing, along with its sizeable campaign war chest, was no doubt a major factor in silencing Democratic dissent.

As I noted back in June, Big Labor’s support for the the Gang of Eight plan seems at odds with its mission to protect the interests of American workers:

Liberals might assume that, because Big Labor is backing the bill, American workers stand to benefit. A Congressional Budget Office analysis suggests otherwise. The bill would create an “influx” of low-skilled, low-wage temporary workers over the next several years, the CBO predicts, and, as a result, “the unemployment rate would be slightly higher than it otherwise would be and average wages would be slightly lower.”

Proponents of the bill will point out that, according to the CBO, average wages would stop declining in about 2024 and would increase over the following decade. Opponents, however, might wonder if there aren’t better ways to reform the immigration system, ones that don’t involve a decade’s worth of wage stagnation.

However, Big Labor would certaintly stand to benefit from the mass-legalization of millions of illegal immigrants, in the form of millions of potential dues-paying members added to its ranks. And the recent policy change will mean that, in the meantime, ”immigrant rights” activist groups such as the National Council of La Raza will be eligible to join the club. “The AFL-CIO has ceased operating as a representative for U.S. workers,” says a GOP aide opposed to the Gang of Eight bill. ”It has now become a representative for the global progressive movement and sees low-skill immigration as a way to restore its strength and numbers within the United States.”

The group’s support for the Gang of Eight bill is also slightly awkward in that two of its affiliates directly involved in immigration enforcement — the unions representing employees at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — are strongly opposed to the plan.