Friday, December 14, 2012

Right to Work (for less)

This week Michigan became the 26th state to pass so called "Right to work" legislation.

There were many issues with how it was passed, including being rushed through without public hearings, and no doubt all that will lead to legal challenges and recall elections, but what is this so called "right to work" legislation anyway?

On the surface it sounds like a good idea.  Who would be against somebody having the right to work and isn't this country founded on individual freedoms?
But as you know, slogans and names can be deceiving.

When a professional decides to take a position, they sit with the employer and work out a deal acceptable to both sides.  If we are talking about a position with a high rate of pay then there are usually lawyers involved to protect everyone's interest.
When a worker accepts a position they do not have the individual resources to hire a lawyer to negotiate for them, but if they join with fellow workers, they can have such resources.
To do so, they form a group, called a union, sit down with the employer and work out a deal, much as an individual would do.

When a group of employees decide to join together and bargain as a group for wages, benefits, and working conditions, they are exercising their right to do so under the laws of this country. I don't think anyone would deny that this is just.

Some employers would rather that these workers not have such resources because then the employer has the advantage.

When a group of workers decide to proceed with he formation of such a union, a vote is taken and if the majority elects to unionize, then that union has an obligation under law to negotiate for ALL the workers and to protect ALL the worker's rights under the negotiated contract.  In fact, failure to protect ANY worker's rights by the union leadership is against the law.  The workers set union dues to pay for the cost of the collective bargaining process and all share the cost.

Under so called "right to work" legislation, any specific worker has the right to refuse to pay their share of the costs, leaving their fellow workers to pick up the tab, even though all receive the benefits of the contract and must have their rights under the contract protected.
It's like telling the people in your town that they do not have to pay their taxes, even though they drive on the roads maintained and plowed by the town, send their kids to the school, etc.  If that happened, the few people paying their taxes would have to cover the entire costs and their taxes would skyrocket!

"Right to work" legislation sounds good until you see it for what it truly is, an attempt by greedy people to prevent workers from successfully bargaining for fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
It is an attempt to circumvent what our country stands for, justice for all.