Even After Recent State Victories, Movement Still Has Far to Go
(Click here to download the April 2016 National Right To Work Newsletter)
Thanks primarily to statutes adopted by four states over the course of barely more than four years, the share of all Americans living in Right to Work states has risen from 40.3% in 2010 to an estimated 48.5% today.
Back in 1955, the year the National Right to Work Committee was founded, just 28.2% of all Americans enjoyed the protection of state bans on compulsory union dues and fees.
Committee President Mark Mix commented: “The progress that Committee members, now 2.8 million strong, and their allies have made over the years is certainly worth celebrating.
“But Right to Work stalwarts won’t be satisfied until no employee, public or private, in any state faces termination for refusal to join or bankroll an unwanted union.”
Just Two Months Ago, West Virginia Became the 26th Right to Work State
On February 12, pro-Right to Work West Virginia legislators overrode Big Labor Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto to make the Mountain State the 26th to prohibit union officials from forcing employees to consent to fork over a portion of their paychecks in order to get or keep a job.
And the West Virginia statute was adopted just 11 months after Wisconsin approved the 25th state Right to Work law in March 2015.
Two other Great Lakes states, Indiana and Michigan, passed bans on compulsory union financial support in 2012.
“The rapid-fire progress at the state level ought to help persuade congressional leaders to allow House and Senate floor votes on legislation to repeal the federal authorization for forced union dues and fees,” said Mr. Mix.
‘Collectivist Style Of Unionism . . . Is Way Out of Touch’
In a column written subsequently to the three Midwestern states’ handing victories to Right to Work supporters, but well before West Virginia followed suit, attorney, think-tank director, and regular Forbes contributor George Leef commented on the victories’ significance:
“The old, coercive and collectivist style of unionism enshrined in the 1935 NLRA [National Labor Relations Act] is way out of touch with modern realities and its appeal is fading fast. . . . More states are apt to enact [Right to Work] statutes to avoid losing out on business investment . . . .”
Compulsory unionism has always been opposed by most Americans, but today it does seem clear that public support for the Right to Work has over time become even more lopsided and intense.
“More and more federal politicians as well as state legislators and governors are getting the message regarding the importance and the strong appeal of the Right to Work issue,” said Mr. Mix.
“In recent years, elected officials and candidates in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and a host of other states have benefited by highlighting their support for the Right to Work principle during their campaigns.
“Clearly, it’s time for Congress to consider the National Right to Work Act [H.R.612/S.391], which would repeal the federal labor-law provisions authorizing forced union dues.”
H.R.612 and S.391 would abolish the provisions in the NLRA and the 1951 Railway Labor Act (RLA) Amendment that give the federal seal of approval for terminating employees who refuse to pay union dues or fees.
Bad Federal Policy Is the Reason West Virginia Had to Pass a Right to Work Law
Because it denies employees who oppose irresponsible union bosses’ straitjacket work rules and hate-the-boss class warfare the freedom to fight back by cutting off their dues, federal labor law ultimately slows productivity growth and makes America poorer.
“Right to Work supporters’ entirely appropriate jubilation about our string of four state victories in four years shouldn’t cause us to forget that it’s Congress, not any state legislature, that spawned the evil of private-sector forced union dues in the first place,” said Mr. Mix.
“The only reason West Virginians had to battle against the Big Labor machine for years to enact a Right to Work law is that Congress imposed forced unionism on their state, just as it did on the 49 other states.
“Moreover, even after all the forced- dues contracts forged prior to the West Virginia Right to Work law’s effective date expire, the Mountain State still won’t be able to protect all of its employees from compulsory unionism.”
Congress Has the Duty to Correct the Evils Federal Labor Policy Sustains
“Because of federally-imposed loopholes,” Mr. Mix explained, “union bosses will still wield the power to get West Virginia airline and railroad employees and employees on so-called ‘exclusive federal enclaves’ fired for refusal to pay dues or fees.
“Fortunately, H.R.612 and S.391 would close these loopholes, which were drilled into every state Right to Work law by Congress and the federal courts.
“The West Virginia victory shouldn’t blind us to the fact that Congress even today is perpetuating the problem of private-sector forced union dues.
“Ultimately, Congress must solve it for once and for all by passing the National Right to Work Act.”
Mr. Mix emphasized that Committee members and legislative staff are pressing for hearings and floor votes on both of the two pending federal Right to Work measures.
Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Forced Unionism
H.R.612, the House Right to Work Bill, and S.391, the upper chamber’s Right to Work Bill, have a total of 139 sponsors as this Newsletter edition goes to press.
H.R.612 was introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), while S.391 was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
“After roll-call Right to Work floor votes in the House and Senate, concerned citizens across the country will know for sure which of their federal elected officials support employee freedom of choice, and which are Big Labor stooges,” Mr. Mix explained.
“That alone will make a major difference. Poll after poll shows nearly 80% of Americans who regularly vote in federal elections support the Right to Work principle. Politicians who ignore what their constituents think and vote to perpetuate forced union dues may well suffer ballot-box repercussions down the road.”
To illustrate the point, Mr. Mix pointed out that, back in 2009, then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had, with the Committee’s assistance, put his entire chamber on the record concerning an amendment that would have revoked Big Labor’s forced-dues and forced-fee privileges.
After Voting in Favor of Forced Dues, Five Senators Were Defeated in 2014
And in 2014, five senators who had voted to kill the DeMint Amendment, and thus force hardworking Americans to continue bankrolling a union to get or keep a job, were defeated at the polls as the Committee’s candidate survey program put a spotlight on their anti-Right to Work records.
“Today, Big Labor politicians Mark Begich [D-Alaska], Kay Hagan [D-N.C.], Mary Landrieu [D-La.], Mark Pryor [D-Ark.], and Mark Udall [D-Colo.] are no longer in the Senate, in part because they were unable to hide their support for union bosses’ special privileges,” noted Mr. Mix.
“And except for Mr. Begich, all of these senators were defeated by strong pro-Right to Work challengers.
“But unless National Right to Work succeeds in getting recorded House and Senate floor votes on forced-dues repeal legislation in the current Congress, freedom-loving voters in key contested races this fall will not be as well-informed as Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Colorado voters were in 2014.”
Mr. Mix called on Committee members across the country to join with him in lobbying House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Minn.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“Let them know you want them to do everything they can to ensure that Americans’ Right to Work without being forced to join or pay dues to a union is protected,” urged Mr. Mix