House Votes on National Right to Work Law

Politicians’ Stands on Forced Union Dues Now in the Spotlight

Joe Wilson
Working closely with Right to Work legislative staff members, on March 9 South Carolina’s Joe Wilson (R) put House members on the record in support of or opposition to forced union dues. (Credit: Susan Walsh AP)

This March, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), with the active support of the National Right to Work Committee, forced his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote directly on the federal policy of compulsory union dues and fees for the first time in roughly three quarters of a century. 

The recorded vote on Mr. Wilson’s National Right to Work Amendment to the so-called “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act spotlighted House politicians who support firing workers if they do not join or bankroll a union.

“House Roll Call 68, which occurred on March 9, was a test — a test to see which House members are for freedom and which are for coercion,” said Committee President Mark Mix. 

“As Congressman Wilson and Right to Work legislative staff fully expected, union lobbyists defeated the Right to Work Amendment, 243-185. 

“But the vote illustrated how congressional support for Right to Work has grown in recent years, and paved the way for future gains.”

Until this year, the House had not voted on a comprehensive national Right to Work measure since the Taft-Hartley Act was being considered in 1947. Harry Truman was President at the time.

Right to Work Now Much Stronger Than It Was In 2009 or 1996

Right to Work supporters previously secured Senate votes on Right to Work in 1996 and 2009.

“In the 1996 vote, 60% (barely more than a majority) of GOP senators supported Right to Work,” recalled Mr. Mix.

“In 2009, just over three-quarters of Republican senators cast their ballots against compulsory unionism.

“This year, more than 87% of Republican House members, plus Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, stood up to the union bosses.

“There are several reasons why overall Right to Work strength in Congress as well as Right to Work support within the GOP congressional caucuses has grown substantially over the past 25 years:

“History shows that when politicians vote for compulsory unionism, they often pay the ultimate political price.

“Over the years, voters have littered the political landscape with the corpses of politicians who had publicly voted to force hardworking Americans to pay union dues just to get or keep a job.

“And time and again, union bigwigs have refused to accept GOP politicians’ anti-Right to Work ‘olive branches’ and successfully targeted them for defeat.

“Meanwhile, Big Labor efforts to oust pro-Right to Work members of Congress have overwhelmingly failed.”

Support in the U.S. House today would be even stronger had not a handful of congressmen broken their long-standing pledges to constituents by opposing the Wilson Amendment.

Nebraska’s Don Bacon Breaks Promise to Right to Work Supporters

Perhaps the most flabbergasting flip-flop was that of Nebraska Republican Don Bacon.

Mr. Mix noted:  “In 2016, when he was running against the Big Labor incumbent who was then ‘representing’ Right to Work Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, Don Bacon pledged to sponsor or cosponsor legislation abolishing federally imposed forced union dues and fees.

“Mr. Bacon was one of 22 candidates elected to Congress for the first time in 2016 after pledging, in response to the National Right to Work Committee’s Candidate Survey, to oppose compulsory unionism across the board.

“The vast majority of these successful candidates kept their promises and signed on to the National Right to Work Act soon after they took office.

“But not Mr. Bacon. First he refused to cosponsor a national Right to Work law. Then, in 2018 and 2019, he actually cosponsored a Big Labor power grab that would have forced currently independent state and local police officers and firefighters across America under union monopoly-bargaining control. 

“And this March, despite representing a district in a state that has been Right to Work for 75 years, he sided with Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] and other union-label politicians by voting to retain, rather than repeal, the handful of provisions in federal law that authorize forced union dues and fees.”

No One Should ‘Be Required to Join’ Any Private Group ‘Against His Will’

Public opinion strongly supports the Right to Work principle.

“Decades of polling show that the American people as a whole recognize that forced unionism is wrong,” said Mr. Mix.

As illustration, he 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 across the country.

“For more than eight-and-a-half decades, it has explicitly authorized the termination of employees for refusal to join or pay dues to a union, even if they don’t want it, and never asked for it.”

But all this will change if H.R.1275/S.406, National Right to Work legislation introduced in February by Mr. Wilson and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), becomes law.

Like the Right to Work Amendment offered by Mr. Wilson, H.R.1275 and S.406 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.

When the National Right to Work Amendment came up for a House roll call, union-label politicians had a choice: Side with their constituents and vote for it, or side with Big Labor and vote “No.” (Credit: Dick Hafer)

Mark Mix to Members: Make Big Labor Politicians Feel Maximum Heat  

Mr. Mix concluded:

“The House Right to Work roll call was in itself a major step forward.

“During the first four decades after the National Right to Work Committee was founded, ‘expert’ political strategists said Committee members would never secure a vote on national Right to Work legislation.

“Against all the odds, our members secured Senate votes in 1996 and 2009. And now the House vote has occurred. 

“The Committee’s next task is to force dozens of House members in key targeted districts who cast their ballots against Right to Work this year to reconsider before they have to face the voters again in 2022.

“Whom do these politicians represent: the roughly 80% of their constituents who support Right to Work, or the tiny elite that benefits from the forced-unionism status quo?”

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