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What ‘Right to Work’ is about

“Right to Work” is really a misnomer as nowhere is anyone’s right to work infringed upon, regardless of whether the state has this legislation or is an “Agency Shop” state.

“Closed Shop,” in which you had to belong to the union if the company was unionized, has been illegal since the late 1940s under the Taft-Hartley Act, passed over President Harry Truman’s veto.” “Agency Shop” means if a company is unionized, you either join the union or pay an “agency fee” for the services the union provides, which is more than just better pay and benefits.

Many in Nebraska don’t seem to understand that here, if you have no labor contract, you can be fired anytime and the employer doesn’t even have to give you a reason. With a labor contract, you have a grievance procedure to deal fairly with any disciplinary action, including termination.

Suppose Nebraska passed a law that said if you wanted any goods or services from a retailer or other business, you could have those goods or services for free, just because you didn’t want to pay for them. Business leaders would be outraged.

However, that is exactly what “Right to Work” does to unions. The unions must provide the benefits of the labor contract to all employees, whether members of the union or not, and cannot charge anything for it.

Unfortunately, there are many people in our society who are more than happy to take something for free and let others pay for it.

Tim Morrison, Omaha

President, Communications Workers of America Local 7290

Originally posted to cwa7290 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 02:45 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I´m not american, but I´m a unionized worker, and I have heard vague things only about "right to work".  So would you mind if I just ask a few things?

    you either join the union or pay an “agency fee” for the services the union provides, which is more than just better pay and benefits.
    what are those services?

    "better pay", with that you mean the unions collectively bargaining for better pay? But that better pay (or, sometimes more important, other things like work times, work conditions, job grade structures etc) then accrues to all workers, union or not. Isnt that so? I can hardly imagine that it is not so - that would mean that people get different pay for the same job. Here that would be illegal.

    Here, unions negotiate what´s called Tarifvertraege, CAO in Dutch, and those are binding for everyone, unionized or not (including on the business side. Not all businesses are members of their trade organizations (Verbände. Yet what those organizations negotiate binds nonmember businesses too. Those businesses avoid membership costs at the price of not having an at least nominal voice at their side).

    if you have no labor contract, you can be fired anytime and the employer doesn’t even have to give you a reason.
    What does that mean? People work without contracts? (in agri, even a handshake can be a legally valid implied contract). Only unionized people have contracts? That cant be possibly true. And firing protections - they should be part of contract law and not dependent on union membership. Is that really so in the US? I must say I have trouble believing that.

    Thus, a part of (and in fact the most essential) services of organization (unions and businesses) are "free" here for what we call Trittbrettfahrer. (Someone who jumps onto the outside of a trolley wagon and has a ride without paying). There are other union services that arent free  - for instance law assistance in conflict cases; highly important; and also support in case of strikes and exclusions.

    But unions arent little businesses that operate on a "pay for goods" basis. They work for the good of all workers, not just their narrow membership.

    •  Some answers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges, Dirtandiron

      In the US, employees may very well be paid differently and receive different benefits while doing the same work or the same jobs. In a RTW state, the Union negotiated contract applies to all employees, but only the union employees pay the wages and costs of those negotiations.

      Also, all employees have Union representation when dealing with the bosses, but the Union members are paying for all the representatives time, no matter the membership status of the employee.

      In the US, if you don't have a contract, then you may be fired at will. Depending on the reason the company gives for your firing, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits, but have no legal basis to try to get your job back.

      Few workers have a contract that is not the result of a Union, most of those that do are more likely to be a "professional" employee like a chemist or engineer, or a salesperson. Those few that have a contract and that are not "professionals" usually have a contract that is more of a way to screw the worker than to ensure fair treatment.

      Does this answer your questions?

      United Electrical Workers Union Local 506 (UE506)

      Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

      by Mentatmark on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:00:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, BlackSheep1, Dirtandiron

    I was under the impression that what these laws are really about is weakening the unions financially therefore hindering their ability to financially support politicians...really about the corporations having means to support politicians but not the unions.

    "There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is." Einstein

    by humanunit on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:31:39 PM PST

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Their object is to load up on employees who are "free riders," who are not members of the union or paying dues to support the union. Then when the union can no longer fund itself, it's back to low wages and no benefits, and no political contributions from the union.
      When that happens, the corporate-backed candidate will have a huge advantage, and the corporation will be back to paying next to nothing for it's employees.

      Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

      by Icicle68 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:45:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Right to Work" = Scab Protection Act. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Back in the 1990's while on strike against Caterpillar for Unfair Labor Practices, some of the Union members crossed the picket lines, and returned to work.  When everything was finally settled, many of these same scabs were not paying union dues, and as a Bargaining Committee Member, I had to represent these scabs.  But like the saying goes, "you get what you pay for."  I'm not saying I didn't represent the scabs, I'm just saying they all seemed to have real weak grievances.    

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