Sioux City Journal: Don’t Mess With Iowa’s Right to Work

The Sioux City Journal contributes a powerful editorial against efforts to punish workers who choose not to join a labor union in Iowa:

With both of Iowa’s legislative chambers, as well as the governor’s office, controlled by Democrats, labor unions are salivating at what they think is a golden opportunity to diminish, if not destroy, this state’s “right-to-work” status.

What they call “fair share” legislation, we call a patently unfair, ill-advised proposal which would create untold economic harm to the state – particularly this part of the state – and to which we are vigorously opposed. We strongly urge the Legislature to reject this effort, which is nothing more than one component of an overall national strategy to forcibly build sagging union coffers and influence.

. . .

So-called “fair share” legislation under discussion in the Legislature would require non-union workers to pay a fee to a union if they benefit from union services at their place of employment. Although the legislation technically would not repeal Iowa’s right-to-work law, its essential effect would be the same – forced unionism of workers.

Equally important to the unfair impact on workers is the negative effect “fair share” would have on Iowa’s economy.

. . .

In a guest column in our Opinion section today, Mark Mix, president of the Springfield, Va., based, nonprofit National Right to Work Committee, writes: “In fact, the Department of Labor’s own statistics reveal that from 1995 to 2005, private-sector employment in right-to-work states grew 79 percent faster than in non-right-to-work states. Over the same time period, real personal income grew by 37 percent in right-to-work states, compared to 26 percent in non-right-to-work (i.e. forced-dues) states.”

It’s clear to us what’s involved here – declining clout by unions. In its editorial, the WSJ [Wall Street Journal] wrote: “Unions lost 326,000 members in 2006 and the percentage of working Americans who belong to a union fell to 12 percent, continuing to fall from a high of 34 percent in the 1950s. Today only one in 13 private-sector workers is a member of a labor union, while four times as many Americans own stock as belong to a union.”

This state faces enough challenges in efforts to retain and attract businesses, industries and high-quality jobs. It shouldn’t create more through passage of “fair share.” To the Legislature, we say: Don’t mess with the right to work in Iowa.