“Right to Work” isn’t just a union issue
What is a “Right-to-work-out” law?
It’s really not that complicated, although the name is misleading since everybody already has a right to work out — just as we have a right to work. What the special interests are trying to do is say union membership should be free, even though currently nobody is forced to join a union, and the economic boom of the 50s and 60s followed the biggest expansion of unions in the history of the U.S.A.
Gyms charge membership fees, but you don’t have to pay if you just work out at home, or walk in the park (which tax-payers make possible, actually.)
There are lots of non-union jobs and companies, so why should somebody get union health care coverage and a pension without paying in a dime? Dues are typically less than the amount deducted from paychecks at non-union employers to pay for similar benefits – but obviously using the government to force unions to cover those costs for non-members puts them at a serious economic disadvantage.
The MN GOP scheduled a hearing Monday, March 12, in the Senate Judiciary Committee
Union members were there, standing up for the rights of middle class workers. You need to look no farther than Wisconsin to see that the war on workers cuts into the entire middle class: Wisconsin’s the only state in the whole country that’s lost jobs for 6 straight months – their Governor, who has said that “Right-to-Work” is beyond even his anti-union ambitions, has put Wisconsin employment into a tail-spin.
So it’s more than unions at stake, it’s the standard of living of the working families in America’s shrinking middle-class.
Minneapolis Firefighter Joshua Tjaden, Local 82, put it this way:
“I just can’t go join an organization and say I want all the benefits of the organization but I don’t want to pay. I don’t walk into the neighborhood gym and say ‘I want to work out, but I don’t want to pay for it.’“
Why do union members oppose “Right-to-work-out” laws?
These laws aren’t fair to paying members. Free-loaders can use the gym, in this example, and get all the benefits that paying members get, but without paying a dime. Union members understand there’s no free lunch: a fair deal helps everybody. It’s just not fair to the people who pay, or to business owners who pay for the upkeep on the equipment, and the utilities, etc., if some folks get a free pass.
Here’s the thing:
When the government says we’re entitled to free legal representation if we cannot afford to defend ourselves, it’s not free – tax-payers pays for the attorney’s time and expertise. Unions have won great advances for workers by relying on the constitutional right to choose to associate freely in pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We no longer tolerate sweat-shops; we expect safe working conditions, even in mines and other risky places; business is allowed to seek and make a profit, but not by treating people as disposable commodities.
If the government told lawyers to provide their services free to anybody who asked, the lawyers would find other jobs and the defendants in criminal cases would be on their own.
If the tax-payers want to pay the unions for their services, that’s their right to decide – but let’s not pretend that there’s no value in health care, a union pension, apprenticeship programs, or the other services unions provide. Let’s have workers pay, not force tax-payers to hand out these benefits like some sort of welfare program.
So-called Right-ro-Work is great if you want something for nothing.
In 1948 as the U.S. worked to spread our values to the world via the United Nations, the International Declarations of Human Rights made it explicit that unions were not just an American or European oddity. Article 23 stated:
- Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
- Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
- Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
So-called “Right-to-Work” laws are a direct attack on these basic human rights, and make no more sense than a “Right” to work out. The only benefit is to corporations that can pay lower wages, reduce their costs by reducing benefits and pensions, and put more cash in the pocket of the elite, non-union CEOs who already make as much (or more) in a year as many of their workers will earn in a lifetime.
We wouldn’t tolerate worker abuse anywhere else, from Guatemala to China, so why let ALEC and other special interests sneak blatantly anti-worker legislation through so many state governments right here in the U.S.A.?