FILE - PA hair stylist 6-4-2020

Stylist Kayla Addink arranges items in her workspace June 4, 2020, as she prepares for her first day back on the job at the West View Barber Shop in West View, Pennsylvania.

As is unambiguously stated on the U.S. Department of Labor’s webpage, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is … dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

But let’s be clear. There’s a huge difference between celebrating labor and labor unions – and the distinction becomes more pronounced every year, thanks primarily to the arrogance of the nation’s government employee unions.

To provide some context, roughly 10 percent of all U.S. employees are unionized. While about 34 percent of public-sector employees are union, only 6 percent of their private sector counterparts are.

In Pennsylvania specifically, union members account for a little over 12 percent of all workers, but even that meager total qualifies as the fourth-highest in union membership across the nation.

Most people probably don’t think often about the important difference between private- and public-sector unions. And that’s by design.

Private-sector unions represent the rights and safeguard the interests of employees from corporate abuse. In return, employees have to show a return on their employer’s investment in them.

On the other hand, public-sector employees, such as teachers, police officers, Postal Service workers and other government employees, are represented by government union leaders who negotiate with politicians to continually grow government at taxpayer expense.

Government employees are funded by the taxpayer, and there is much less accountability when union bosses run to elected officials with their hand out. They deduct dues from taxpayer-funded paychecks, which they then donate to compliant politicians willing to vote their way.

Today, Labor Day is no longer about trade unionists marching down the street asking for safe working conditions and a five-day workweek. The union leaders of today openly support the defunding of police, Medicare for All and other radical ideals that have nothing to do with the pay, benefits or working conditions of their dues-payers and everything to do with advancing a far-Left political agenda.

The goal is to expand government – which means more union dues dollars for their slush funds. Thanks to the government union-backed politicians like Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, thousands of businesses and livelihoods of those employed by them are in great peril.

Just last week, Wolf issued a proclamation in which he gave himself absolute authority for another 90 days because “the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be of such magnitude or severity that emergency action is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of affected citizens in Pennsylvania.”

While in no danger of missing out on a paycheck themselves, Tom Wolf and his cabinet have made disastrous decisions affecting the economic, mental and social well-being of our citizens, and they would not be in office without the union bosses’ help.

Not coincidentally, government unions donated more than $10 million to his last gubernatorial run.

So, this Labor Day we shouldn’t be celebrating government labor unions or the union bosses who take lavish trips and enjoy six-figure salaries. Instead, we should celebrate the workers of this great nation and their constitutional right to leave their public-sector union if they so choose without fear of losing their job.

Hunter Tower is the Pennsylvania State Director of the Freedom Foundation, a national free-market organization dedicated to holding government unions accountable.