Forum Thread

Meaning of "right to work"

Reply to ThreadDisplaying 6 Posts
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Several states have "right to work" laws passed, which are basically anti-union laws. AlterNet has an article this morning:

    AlterNet: The Most Dishonest Words in American Politics: 'Right to Work'

    “Right to work” is the most dishonest phrase in American political discourse. It sounds like it’s defending people’s right to earn a living. But as used by its supporters, it means making it impossible for workers to form an effective union, couched in the language of “freedom” and “choice.”

    "Specifically, it means laws banning “union shops,” in which everyone in a workplace has to join the union or pay a fee to cover the cost of union representation. Twenty-four states have such laws. All were in the South and West until last year, when Indiana and Michigan enacted them. Michigan’s law was rammed through the Republican-dominated legislature in a lame-duck session last December."


    Whenever I bring up the topic of unions, someone on this website invariably brings up James Hoffa or seek to stereotype corrupt "union bosses." Yet we have so much to thank the unions for, and right now there is a concerted campaign by the corporate oligarchs to destroy the last bastion of unions...the public sector. And when that happens, American workers will have even less leverage on working conditions, pay, firing, vacations, health care, etc.

    I am a supporter of unions.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    I'm also a Union supporter and because a Manager wanted me to break public law and do so placing me in peril of loosing my job, I joined the union decades ago. It was a dishonest Manager that forced me to join. After becoming more familar with Union benefits and Union history I became a large supporter of Union activity. Most workers today don't realize how many benefits the Unions have given labor. Union activism paid a price with many who marched and held signs for Unions lost their lives, security and their jobs. The Unions persevered and today labor is better for it. However, since Unions are threatened by big business and those Managers that continue to be dishonest to the workers, those benefits labor enjoys today are suspect to being lost again.

    Support your Unions, they are a benefit to all of America. If you don 't, someday you'll wonder what happen to your wages, annual and sick leave, job protections in health and welfare, and the things you want for your families. The Unions did help get that all for you, don't let big business and bad management take it away.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    the worst assault on worker's rights in recent years was carried out by Governor Scott Walker, shortly after he took office in Wisconsin ..
    the link below provides more information on him, the Koch brothers, and the "ebb and flow" of the power of unions ..

    the video with Glenn Beck is especially enlightening:

    http://tohell-andback.blogspot.com/2011/03/man-behing-curtain.html
  • Democrat
    Missouri
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    A big reason why Big Business and most managers do not want Unions in their workplace is because they do not understand labor law. The majority of managers in this country are not trained in labor law. Union leaders spend months and years in organized training learning administrative and law for labor. In comparison, most managers are like grade school children as compared to college educated union leaders that are very well trained and skilled in labor law.

    This is why many managers attempt to have you work overtime and not give you extra pay or leave. This is against Federal Law to do so, but they do not understand this principle. It is often you will see law suits when companies try to do this to their employees. Some dumb management decision tries to get their employees to work for nothing. It gets them in trouble. Union leaders are quick on this issue and does not allow management to even think about it. There are many examples of where management doesn't understand how fair practices in treating their employees make a better work environment. Unions come into play to help management. Compromise is always a tactic and is a Union trained skill in the art of negotiation.

    Of course, I for one, will agree their are Union abuses. Some Unions feel compelled to ask for the moon when the company is failing. This is an example of a poor Union and where employees within the Union should vote for a change in Union leadership. However, Unions are more of a benefit than not. It is not a surprise to see the Republican base make a solid stand against Union activity. Republicans stand more for big business or the rich lords of the country and do not want Unions to interfere. Lower the minimum wage, take away health benefits, work in dangerous situations without protections, and make you work more than 60 hours a week without any overtime, that is what big business wants to impose on you. Bad thing for them, the Unions will not let them get away with it, without a fight.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Arizona --

    Yes I agree that Scott Walker is one of the most anti-union governors. It is a personal obsession with him to kill off the unions in the Wisconsin public sector. He fancies himself some kind of "big shot" and panders (sucks up is a better word) to corporate gurus like David Koch.

    And Glenn Beck's rantings are indeed comical if it wasn't for the fact that so many people listen and absorb what he is saying. Beck and Limbaugh and certain Fox News pundits sell a product for profit...they are purveyors of hate and rage. They only care about themselves and money and do not care about the harm on society that they are creating...like a festering wound that they keep putting salt in. In a sense they are planting the seeds of fascism in this country as evidenced by the appalling number of people, mostly Tea Party puppets, that identify with big corporations (hence the anti-unionism) while at the same time hating "big government."

    Amcmurry --

    Ditto on your remarks. Labor laws are carefully written and do indeed make America a better workplace. We can thank unions for that even if you are not employed in a union workplace because they set the market standard in benefits when hiring good people. And yes there is a cost to the corporations in terms of the salaries and benefits they pay out, but there is also payback as their own employees are also their customers. Henry Ford said something along those lines. An economy that consistently sends a bigger and bigger portion of productivity gains to the top CEOs will eventually find that the workers cannot afford the products and services that they sell.

    Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute has published some papers on the value of unions. Here are two of them worth reading:

    Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters, Economic Policy Institute, August 26, 2003: How unions help all workers

    Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, August 29, 2012: Unions, inequality, and faltering middle-class wages

    I highly recommend both. Mishel's first paper covers how unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers....the unions’ effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections. I'll just mention a few conclusions from the study:

    1. The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.

    2. Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers

    3. The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.


    Mishel's more recent second study above looks at how as union membership has declined in the last decade, inequality in this country has grown. There is a correlation.

    "The last decade has also been characterized by increased wage inequality between workers at the top and those at the middle, and by the continued divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker. A major factor driving these trends has been the ongoing erosion of unionization and the declining bargaining power of unions, along with the weakened ability of unions to set norms or labor standards that raise the wages of comparable nonunion workers."

    These are just a few extracts from both studies. These two studies are scholarly and factual. They are good resources if you want to argue unions with your co-workers, friends or relatives on the benefits that unions have had on all workers. The anti-union mentality in this country is not born of personal experiences but rather of a propaganda campaign by corporate oligarchs that cherry pick a few anecdotal examples of unions overreaching...and use them to invoke fear...fear of losing your job.
  • Democrat
    Mojave Desert, NV
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    I don't use the term "Right to work". I call it for what it is, "Right to work for less".