January Supreme Court Hearing Spotlights Forced-Unionism Wrongs
(Click here to download the February 2016 National Right to Work Newsletter)
Thanks to one of the most widely discussed cases to come before the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2015-2016 term, the injustice of compulsory unionism is now extraordinarily high in the public eye.
On January 11, the High Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case brought by the Center for Individual Rights and made possible by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation-won judicial precedents over the past four years.
In the arguments’ wake, millions of Americans who may up to now have paid only passing attention to the Right to Work issue learned from the media about Golden State educator and lead plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs and her co-plaintiffs’ quest to vindicate their constitutional rights.
As journalist Deroy Murdock explained in a syndicated column, at the oral arguments, the plaintiffs’ attorney “told the Court” that they have “a basic human right” under the First Amendment “not to subsidize” union bosses’ schemes to get their employers to “implement policies” that the plaintiffs reject.
Friedrichs Plaintiffs’ Stance Resonates With Public Opinion
“Poll after poll shows that the message of the Friedrichs plaintiffs is one to which the American people is very receptive,” said National Right to Work Committee and Foundation President Mark Mix.
To illustrate his point, Mr. Mix cited an August 2014 nationwide scientific survey of adults aged 18 and over conducted by Gallup, Inc.
The poll found that 82% of adults agree that “no American should be required to join any private organization, like a labor union, against his will.”
“Unfortunately,” observed Mr. Mix, “federal labor policy has long been in conflict with the common-sense views of the vast majority of ordinary citizens.
“For more than eight decades, it has explicitly authorized the termination of employees for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to a union, even if they don’t want it, and never asked for it.”
Friedrichs Decision Probably Won’t Protect Private-Sector Employees’ Freedom
“While a favorable outcome in Friedrichs could potentially end compulsory financial support for unionism in the public sector,” Mr. Mix continued, “it is unlikely to furnish any new protection for private-sector employees, who are subject to federal labor law.
“That’s one reason why grass-roots Right to Work supporters must continue to focus on the legislative arena.”
To take advantage of the increased energy of supporters of voluntary unionism, this winter the Right to Work Committee is intensifying its efforts to secure recorded congressional votes on legislation to rescind Big Labor’s power to collect private-sector forced dues and fees.
In the current Congress, national Right to Work legislation has been introduced in the upper chamber as S.391 by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and in the lower chamber as H.R.612 by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). These two measures had a combined total of 129 sponsors as of February 1, when this Newsletter went to press.
S.391/H.R.612 would not add a single word to federal labor law.
Instead, this legislation would simply repeal the current provisions in the federal code that authorize and promote the termination of employees for refusal to pay money to an unwanted union.
Evidence Indicates National Right to Work Law Would Boost Disposable Incomes
“A lopsided majority of Americans think compulsory unionism is just plain wrong. First and foremost, it’s a moral issue,” said Mr. Mix.
“At the same time, of all the economic reforms Congress may consider this year, S.391 and H.R.612 surely have the greatest potential to boost incomes and jobs.
“Just look at the experience of the states that already had Right to Work laws on the books as of 2014.
“U.S. Commerce Department data, adjusted for regional cost-of-living differences according to an index calculated by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a state government agency, show that in 2014 Right to Work states had an average per capita disposable income of $39,932.
“That’s more than $1200 higher than the national average and nearly $2300 higher than the average for the 26 states that still lacked Right to Work protections in 2014.
“The eight top-ranking states for cost of living-adjusted disposable income per capita are all Right to Work states.”
(For more information, see the chart on page one.)
After Voting in Favor of Forced Dues, Five Senators Were Defeated in 2014
Mr. Mix acknowledged that, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Minn.) heed the pleas of freedom-loving Americans and allow roll-call floor votes on S.391 and H.R.612 this year, the Big Labor machine will very likely muster sufficient votes to block the legislation.
“If for no other reason than union-label President Barack Obama’s veto pen, it’s safe to predict forced-dues repeal won’t become law this year,” said Mr. Mix.
“But recorded floor votes will pave the way for adoption of a national Right to Work law within the next few years.”
Mr. Mix recalled that, in the wake of a previous Senate roll call putting all members of the chamber on the record as supporting or opposing Big Labor’s forced-dues privileges, five anti-Right to Work senators were defeated in the 2014 elections. And four of these Big Labor senators were defeated by unabashed Right to Work supporters.
“In 2016, it’s more important than ever before that ordinary Americans know which of their federal politicians will stand up to the union bosses, and which won’t,” said Mr. Mix. “And the record shows that, if freedom-loving citizens do have this information, they will use it to build pro-Right to Work majorities in both chambers of Congress.