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Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:41 AM

What "Right to Work" really means [View all]

Last edited Wed Dec 12, 2012, 06:28 PM - Edit history (1)

First off, it's not "Right to Work". It's really not even "Right to Work for Less". The true description of these various laws is "The Unions are forced to represent workers who refuse to pay dues or an agency fee".

For instance, somebody gets hired at a good job at good wages. Let me use my little union as an example. Mutuel Clerks are part of the group I represent. Those are individuals that sell tickets to horse and dog racing patrons on races delivered to Boston from around the country (in the Summer, we have live racing). We have just completed a long and costly negotiation that increased our pay to nearly $20 an hour. In the other tracks in New England, the pay ranges from $12 and hour to about $16 an hour. Most other tracks have either non-union shops or in-house associations with no affiliation to an international Union or the AFL-CIO. We are a closed shop and affiliated with both the IBEW and the AFL-CIO. Under our law here in Massachusetts you have to pay union dues to work at a "union shop" and be a member of the union. However, if you put your request in writing with the employer, you can opt-out of the union by paying an agency fee, which amounts to about 80% of the union members' dues. You still are represented by the union, you remain on the seniority list in your rightful place, you bid for jobs in accordance with the contract and you enjoy the wages and benefits that the union negotiates with the company. What you give up is participating in union meetings or voting in union elections or voting on the contract itself.

As far as the argument that some union members do not like a union donating their dues' money to candidates they don't like, that doesn't happen. It's prohibited nationwide by federal law. What a union does is have a separate, voluntary payroll deduction from a union employee into a separate, segregated political fund (PAC). That money can only be donated if authorized by a majority vote of the union members (or in some cases, their elected union reps). Union Dues money can never, ever be used for political donations of any kind. No one is coerced to pay into this (PAC) fund and any member can bring any union or union official up on charges before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) even if he or she thinks this law has been violated.

What right to work laws do, is allow the employee to enjoy all the benefits I have outlined here as a non-union member, but that employee doesn't even have to pay an agency fee. Pretty soon, the union is defending that individual, or itself, if that individual wants to put forward "nuisance charges" against the union. Human nature being what it is, other employes decide "why should I pay dues to defend those who don't pay dues. I'll opt out, too. After all, I can use the extra $500 a year". Although that's short sighted, and as you can see, that $500 a year has brought each individual thousands of dollars in wages and benefits they would not have enjoyed otherwise, this has a continuing, negative affect on the union. Fewer people pay dues, the union has less resources but the same amount of responsibility, and the union ends up in a "death spiral".

What if you could enjoy all the security of being a US citizen. Our country was protected from invaders, our children still had to be educated, our roads were built, etc. Yet, if you decided to, you could opt-out of paying taxes. Sure, some folks would continue to pay taxes. But the same type of person who would opt-out of paying union dues would opt-out of paying taxes. Pretty soon, the rest of us feel like idiots, and there would be no federal, state or local treasury. And as a result, there would end up being no country. That's the closest analogy I can make to this outrage of forcing unions to provide services to employees for free, while they enjoy all the benefits that we provide.

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Reply What "Right to Work" really means [View all]
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