Right to work unfair to unions

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 1 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:49 am in
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By Rick Moyle

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In today’s anti-labor climate, one thing seems to remain constant: false complaints being presented to the public by those who oppose unions. I do not believe that everyone who is anti-labor simply dislikes working people. I think it is a matter of misinformation.

Right to work is a term that refers to the Taft-Hartley Act of June 23, 1947. Congress overcame President Harry Truman’s veto. Truman believed that right to work was a “dangerous intrusion on free speech” and that it would “conflict with important principles of a democratic society.”

In a Democratic society, we strive to pay our fair share. When we receive a service, we pay a fee in most cases. After all, that is capitalism.

The Taft-Hartley Act allows states to pass right-to-work laws. These laws allow open-shop policy that gives companies with union employees the ability to hire non-union workers and the non-union workers the right to possess all of the benefits the union collectively bargains for on behalf of all the members

It allows non-dues paying employees the right to everything a dues-paying employee receives in a bargaining agreement, including medical insurance rates, wages, vacation, sick days, pension plans, holiday pay, workplace safety, scheduled working hours, due process, seniority and — the kicker — representation by union officials.

Right to work simply rewards parasitic behavior. It costs money to negotiate and ratify contracts, operate a local union and represent employees in a workplace. Right to work is nothing more than an attempt to bankrupt unions so they will not be able to stand up for worker rights.

I find it amusing that the first bill to come before the Labor Committee of the Iowa House this legislative session is HJR1. This bill calls for putting a right-to-work amendment into the Iowa Constitution. I would think that the focus of this session would be on other issues. Iowa law already allows for people to hire into a union facility and reap all the wages and benefits of union membership without ever needing to join the union.

The legislators who support right-to-work laws are some of the same representatives who say we should not have certain entitlement programs. They are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Why should a non-dues paying employee be entitled to the same wages and benefits as those who pay their fair share to be represented by unions?

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt: “I am opposed to ‘right-to-work’ legislation because it does nothing for working people, but instead gives employers the right to exploit labor.”

Rick Moyle is executive director, Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO. Comments: rmoyle@hawkeyelabor.us

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