Unions: Right to Work DebateSubmitted by Daily Rube on Wed, 07/10/2013 - 08:57
Ok, I wanted to post this debate to get the perspective of the DP community in a discussion I'm having on Facebook regarding Unions. Someone I went to highschool with happens to be the communications director for the MN AFL-CIO. He often posts political articles and commentary on Facebook. I do my best to bite my tounge, but every now and then get sucked into a FB debate.
Here is his original post:
"Sorry Wisconsin Friends" (Posts link to following article): http://www.postbulletin.com/opinion/our-view-minnesota-is-wi...
Here are the comments since:
(One of his friends):
Are you saying that gutting union rights and restricting women's health care isn't making jobs for WI? Unpossible!
Unions have rights, or individuals? #righttowork
No law says you have to join a union. If you are in a job covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you can be "fair share" and only pay the costs associated with representation. Since unions are legally required to represent everyone covered by the contract, "Right to Work" laws allow people to freeload. Another easy way someone can avoid joining a union is to simply work at a job not covered by a union contract.
No person should be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor pay dues to a labor union.
Unions take away the right of individuals to negotiate for themselves. You only mention the "free riders" who may benefit from collective bargaining. How about the top 10% of workers who are held back from individual negotiation, who would likely have even better packages than the collective agreement chosen for them?
Unions are meant to be voluntary. Member only bargaining, member only "benefits," member only dues., with others allowed to work for the employer independent of the union.
(His same friend):
I am in a union and you do not have to join it to be employed as an engineer/tech at my company. You can also be a conscientious objector and not pay the union dues if you so choose. Such a forced employment situation.
When I first hired in at Boeing I was VERY wary of the union thing. Having gone to school in Michigan, I had 4 years of people bitching about the UAW and had a very skewed perspective of them. However, having been with Boeing now for over 8 years and seeing what the union has done for us compared to what has been stripped away from employees in non-unionized states, it has made me appreciate it a lot more.
Unions are 100% voluntary. It takes a majority of workers to form one and a majority of workers to de-certify one. If there is a union at a workplace, it is because a majority have voted to do so. Union contracts are agreed upon by employers and management, including what positions are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. A union contract doesn't "hold anyone back." Here's an example from my workplace. I am in a union the union contract guarantees that I will be paid no less than a specified amount each year and what my benefits are. There is nothing in the contract that prohibits my employer from paying more than that amount or providing anything else that goes above and beyond the contract. If I don't want union representation, I have the freedom to seek employment somewhere that doesn't have it.
100% forced to pay union dues. 100% relinquishment of individual bargaining rights. 100% monopoly, one union gets bargaining rights... no competition amongst multiple unions. The individual has no power, and is subject to the will of the majority. That is the opposite of freedom.
You know you're now arguing against democracy, right?
I'm arguing that right to work should be a constitutionally protected right. First amendment guarantees the right of freedom of association and implies a freedom of non-association as well. The fifth amendment also guarantees private ownership of property and the principle of free enterprise. Individuals should be able to join or not join unions and employers should have a substantial say in the way their business, or property, operates.
I am all for voluntary unions. Why are unions so worried about empowering the individual?
Pretty simple, here, Collective bargaining agreements are signed by management and employees. They are legally binding agreements that require the union to represent workers in specific positions. The law requires a union to serve all employees covered by the agreement. A union security clause (something that also has to be agreed to by management) provides for membership and "fair share" dues. There is no law that requires an employer to sign a collective bargaining agreement or agree to a union security clause. There is no law forcing someone to work for an employer that has a collective bargaining agreement. Under your logic, I should be able to go to a gym without paying membership fees because I have the "right to work out." That's essentially what happens in a "Right to Work" state, the unions are forced to represent freeloaders because the government has outlawed union security clauses from private contracts. The Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that unions are legally obligated to provide representation to all workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement, whether or not they pay dues.
The analogy doesn't work. Gym membership dues are paid to the gym owner, not to the gym members. #righttowork amendment will nullify SC rulings & fix the gaps in past legislation.
Umm. You are familiar with the Taft-Hartley Act, aren't you? Or are you proposing a national constitutional amendment that will never happen?
National ammendment would be nice, but unneccessary, as states can do it themselves (24 & counting). I am pro-Union... so long as individual liberty isn't infringed upon by the will of a majority. How can the "majority" lose power if they have no competition, force membership, spend membership money keeping itself alive, and labeling all dissenters as "freeloaders." Unions are afraid of empowering individuals, ironic.
If you look at those 24 RTW states, Minnesota outranks them in nearly every economic indicator. Also, SC rulings supersede any state amendment and the duty of fair representation remains. States cannot nullify federal laws and rulings. It's unfair for someone to get the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement without at least paying the cost of representation (again, membership is not forced, free bargaining states allow unions to collected significantly reduced "fair share" dues from non-members to cover representation costs). Do you like the idea of the government telling an employer and union that they are not allowed to include a union security clause in a private contract even if they mutually agree on it?
Here's a FAQ I did during our successful effort to kill a RTW amendment last year that clears this up. https://www.dropbox.com/s/irwwnzqp61t6gcw/RTWFAQ.pdf
Curious for your takes on the dialogue