Time to bust Right-to-Work States
States with “Right-to-Work” statutes, a carryover from the Civil War era have been exposed to criticism by organized labor and by workers for a long time.
“Right-to-work laws are statutes enforced in twenty-two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring, thus requiring the workplace to be an open shop.”
“Boeing Slams Labor Board
By Sam Hananel, Associated Press
Manufacturing.Net - May 04, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Boeing Co. says federal labor regulators unfairly twisted or misquoted statements by company executives to make a case that the company illegally retaliated against union workers.
The company is urging the National Labor Relations Board to withdraw a complaint that accuses Boeing of locating a new plant in South Carolina in part to avoid future labor disruptions in Washington state.
Boeing says its decision to place a new 787 assembly line in South Carolina did not remove or transfer any existing work from Washington state, where the aircraft is assembled by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The Chicago-based company also disputes government assertions it wanted to punish union workers for past strikes. The NLRB wants Boeing to move all assembly work back to Washington state.”
In this instance a large defense contractor has elected to build a new plant in South Carolina and not to transfer any existing workers from Washington State.
“Prior to the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act by Congress over President Harry S Truman's veto in 1947, unions and employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act could lawfully agree to aclosed shop, in which employees at unionized workplaces are required to be members of the union as a condition of employment. Under the law in effect before the Taft-Hartley amendments, an employee who ceased being a member of the union for whatever reason, from failure to pay dues to expulsion from the union as an internal disciplinary punishment, could also be fired even if the employee did not violate any of the employer's rules.
The Taft-Hartley Act outlawed the closed shop.”
My argument is that Right-to-Work Laws undermine fairness among the states and the lack of organized labor in some states has resulted in lower worker safety and higher accident rates. Unevenness in state law affecting workers is un-American.
Workers should be free both to join unions and to refrain from joining unions, and for this reason sometimes refer to non-right-to-work states as "forced unionism" states.
It is wrong for unions to be able to agree with employers to include clauses in their union contracts (also known as a union security agreement) which require all employees to either join the union, or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Furthermore, they contend that in certain cases forced union dues are used to support political causes, causes which some union members may oppose.
A March 3, 2008 editorial in The Wall Street Journal compared Ohio to Texas and examined why "Texas is prospering while Ohio lags". According to the editorial, during the previous decade, while Ohio lost 10,400 jobs, Texas gained 1,615,000 new jobs. The article cites several reasons for the economic expansion in Texas, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the absence of a state income tax, and right-to-work laws.
Nobel laureate economist F.A. Hayek endorsed right-to-work laws, writing:
If legislation, jurisdiction, and the tolerance of executive agencies had not created privileges for the unions, the need for special legislation concerning them would probably not have arisen in common-law countries. But, once special privileges have become part of the law of the land, they can be removed only by special legislation. Though there ought to be no need for special 'right-to-work laws,' it is difficult to deny that the situation created in the United States by legislation and by the decisions of the Supreme Court may make special legislation the only practicable way of restoring the principles of freedom. Footnote: Such legislation, to be consistent with our principles, should not go beyond declaring certain contracts invalid, which is sufficient for removing all pretext to action to obtain them. It should not, as the title of the 'right-to-work laws' may suggest, give individuals a claim to a particular job, or even (as some of the laws in force in certain American states do) confer a right to damages for having denied a particular job, when the denial is not illegal on other grounds. The objections against such provisions are the same as those which apply to 'fair employment practices' laws.
Opponents argue right-to-work laws create a free-rider problem, in which non-union employees (who are bound by the terms of the union contract even though they are not members of the union) benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues.
Because unions are weakened by these laws, wages are lowered and worker safety and health is endangered.
For these reasons, they often refer to right-to-work states as "right to work for less" states or "right-to-fire" states, and "non-right-to-work" states as "free collective bargaining" states.
They also cite statistics from the United States Department of Labor showing, for example, that, in 2003, states with right-to-work laws in general had a higher rate of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers.
Business interests led by the Chamber of Commerce lobbied extensively for right-to-work legislation in the Southern states. Critics from organized labor have argued since the late 1970sthat while the National Right to Work Committee purports to engage in grass-roots lobbying on behalf of the "little guy", the National Right to Work Committee was formed by a group of southern businessmen with the express purpose of fighting unions, and that they "added a few workers for the purpose of public relations." They also argue that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has received millions of dollars in grants from foundations controlled by major U.S. industrialists like the New York based John M. Olin Foundation, Inc. which grew out of a family manufacturing business, and other right wing groups.
Conservative Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney has argued against right-to work-laws. Carney argues that "these laws interfere with the right of contract and they bar certain consensual economic arrangements — specifically, they bar employers from agreeing to hire only union workers," and calls opposition to them "the true conservative position."”