‘Speaker Mike Johnson does not stand with workers’ Skip to content

‘Speaker Mike Johnson does not stand with workers’

Johnson says he wants to get back to the business of legislating. But for whom is he legislating? It’s not for working people – that’s for sure.

4 min read

The mainstream media has done a good job of showing that newly-elected hard-right House Speaker Mike Johnson is an unswerving Trump loyalist. But it hasn’t made as much of Johnson’s views on organized labor. Like Trump, he’s steadfastly anti-union.

House Republicans, who unanimously elected Johnson, are all abuzz about getting back “to ‘the business of legislating,’” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in a statement. But working folks, she added, “have a simple question: Legislating for whom?”

The headline atop the statement answers the query: “AFL-CIO: Speaker Mike Johnson Does Not Stand with Workers.”

“On the issues that matter most to working people, Johnson has voted consistently with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party — and been a driving force behind resolutions that would cut trillions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act,” Shuler’s statement also said. “He has voted against infrastructure packages to put Americans back to work, and opposed legislation that raises wages and helps workers join a union, and rejected bills time and again that would compassionately protect America’s workers, including veterans and pregnant workers. Based on his track record, his election will mean legislating against working people; against LGBTQ+ rights; against reproductive health care; and against democracy.”

CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. also called out “MAGA Mike.” 

Cummings released a statement declaring “It is absolutely shameful that every single Republican Member of Congress voted for this unqualified, anti-worker extremist. Among other things, Johnson has called the PRO Act an ‘outdated way of thinking,’ co-sponsored the National Right to Work Act [Trump is also pro-RTW], endorsed overturning the ban on company unions, and proposed raising the retirement age and lowering COLAs for Social Security beneficiaries.

“He also wants to turn back the clock on LGBTQ+ rights and has voted against the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

“It is now clear that there are no moderates left in today’s Republican Party, which is under full control of Donald Trump and his acolytes in the right-wing media. With the elevation of Mike Johnson, every working person in our country should be fired up and ready to return Joe Biden to office and elect a pro-worker Congress in 2024.”

The AFL-CIO has endorsed Biden’s reelection. “There’s absolutely no question that Joe Biden is the most pro-union president in our lifetimes,” Shuler said.

In her statement on the new speaker, Shuler also said that “the ‘business of legislating’ is only worthwhile if it serves working people. The labor movement and workers all over this country will fight every day to make sure our new speaker remembers this point — and we will stand in solidarity to keep the government open, and oppose drastic cuts that hurt families and improve the lives of workers all over this country.”

Johnson is no supporter of seniors either, according to the 4.4-million-member Association for Retired Americans. The group panned Johnson on its Facebook page:

“New House Speaker Mike Johnson is no friend of retirees. He has a 0% pro-retiree score in our annual voting record. And … He voted to raise the retirement age.

“He voted to privatize Medicare and Social Security. He voted against letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices. He voted against a $35 cap on insulin prices. He supports a Commission to devise ways to cut Social Security and Medicare.”

In a statement on Johnson’s plan for a “Debt Commission,” ARA Executive Director Richard Fiesta said, “House Speaker Mike Johnson isn’t a household name yet, but he’s made it clear that he has no intention of protecting seniors. He has taken dozens of votes that put the needs of drug corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthiest Americans ahead of older Americans.

“It’s outrageous that Johnson announced plans to create a so-called ‘debt commission’ during his first speech as Speaker of the House. The commission, which would meet behind closed doors, is supposed to come up with schemes to cut the Social Security and Medicare benefits Americans worked a lifetime to earn.

“This is undemocratic, dangerous, and cowardly. If Speaker Johnson and his buddies want to come after Social Security, they should at least have the guts to do it in public.

“These remarks should surprise no one. Johnson earned a 0% pro-retiree score in the Alliance for Retired Americans’ Congressional Voting Record last year, and his lifetime score is a pathetic 5%.

“Speaker Johnson earned those scores by voting AGAINST allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, FOR raising the retirement age, FOR privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and even AGAINST funding for Meals on Wheels.

“Speaker Johnson is already off to a horrific start. Seniors deserve better.”

Kentucky ARA President Kirk Gillenwaters, a Louisville UAW Local 862 retiree, warned that “seniors need to be aware of this guy. We know from his voting record how anti-union and anti-worker he has been – and how he refuses to protect the safety nets that are so important to us seniors and retirees.”

POLITICO did point out that “Johnson has been a staunch conservative on labor issues. According to the AFL-CIO’s vote tracker, he has opposed union policy positions about 90 percent of the time, on par with the average for Republicans.

“In 2022, the most recent year the AFL-CIO has publicly analyzed, he never voted with the labor organization’s stances, opposing such measures as the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and a resolution supporting an expansion of sick leave for railroad workers.

“The times when he has voted alongside the labor federation’s stances have generally been on legislation that had broad Republican support, such as certain coronavirus-related bills in 2020.”


Cross-posted from the KY AFL-CIO web site.

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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

Arlington, KY



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