“Labor” or “Workforce”: What’s the Difference?
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 10, 2023
Each time the majority in the House of Representatives flips between Democrats and Republicans, the name of this Committee changes. When Democrats control the House, the name is “Committee on Education and Labor,” while Republicans rebrand it as “the Committee on Education and the Workforce.”
But why does that matter?
“Labor” is an antiquated term that excludes individuals who contribute to the American workforce but aren’t classified as conventional employees. “Labor” also carries a negative connotation that ignores the dignity of work; the term is something out of a Marxist textbook that fails to capture the accomplishments of the full spectrum of the American workforce.
The Left prefers the term labor because it creates a sense of enmity between employees and employers which union bosses and left-wing activists seek to stoke for political gain. This word also fails to capture how deeply intertwined workers and job creators are in their contributions to our economy. Though the Left likes to treat employers like predators, we know that most job creators have their employees’ best interests in mind. Our economy would not function without the earnest cooperation of both employees and employers.
That’s why “workforce” is such a valuable term. In Rep. Virginia Foxx’s own words, “workforce is a much better term to use because we are talking about all the people in this country who make a living.” The American workforce encompasses, or is built upon, many different components: independent contracting, blue-collar work, and franchise ownership to name a few. Using “labor” in the name of the Committee omits the important contributions of many segments of our economy and inadvertently ignores the dignity of the work of those individuals.
Republicans understand that, for many Americans, work creates a sense of dignity and purpose. Work creates opportunities for Americans to earn a living, support families, and strive toward a greater purpose. Many workers also receive important benefits from their jobs—such as employer-sponsored health care.
Language matters. Using outdated terms like “labor” creates an overt bias towards union bosses while widening fissures created by Big Labor between workers and employers. If we want a modern workforce, we should say as much. In Congress, that begins with ensuring our name reflects our commitment to every individual contributing to our workforce: the Committee on Education and the Workforce.