Rand Paul Introduces National Right to Work Act to End Forced Union Dues for Workers
National Right to Work President applauds legislation that would prevent union officials from extracting union dues from workers as a condition of employment
Washington, D.C. (March 9, 2017) – Today, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the National Right to Work Act (S. 545) in the U.S. Senate.
The one-page bill would end Big Labor’s federally authorized power to force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), issued the following statement praising the introduction of the bill:
“We’re extremely pleased that Senator Paul has introduced the National Right to Work Act, intensifying a growing debate about labor law and worker freedom in our country. This legislation would enshrine the common-sense principle – already enforced in more than half of U.S. states – that no worker should be compelled to join or pay dues to a union just to get or keep a job.
“In an age of legislative overreach, this is one of the shortest bills ever introduced. The National Right to Work Act does not add a single word to federal law. It simply removes language in the National Labor Relations Act that gives union officials the power to extract dues from nonunion workers as a condition of employment.
The bill introduced by Senator Paul is part of a two-pronged strategy which consists of building support in Washington for the National Right to Work Act, while at the same time mobilizing opponents of forced unionism to pass their own state Right to Work laws.
At the federal level, although 28 states have passed their own Right to Work laws since the 1945 Taft-Hartley Act allowed them to do so, the authorization for forcing workers to pay union dues actually comes from two federal laws – the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Railway Labor Act (RLA).
The National Right to Work Act amends both laws, removing the forced-dues provisions and thereby restoring employees’ absolute right to refrain from participating in and funding a union they don’t want.
In building support for the National Right to Work Act, the Committee has been engaged in a multi-year effort.
Most recently, while leading the fight against the union bosses’ so-called “Card Check” bill in 2010, the Right to Work Bill was given lower priority, with only 10 cosponsors.
But after the 2010 Election, the number of House and Senate cosponsors increased dramatically to 122, and the number has continued to increase in each successive Congress.
The Committee recruited 144 cosponsors in the 113th Congress, 156 in the 114th Congress, and expects to recruit even more in the current 115th Congress.
Of course, in recent years the National Right to Work Committee’s mission to pass more state Right to Work laws has also found new strength.
In fact, six states have passed Right to Work laws in just the last five years.
Right to Work’s recent winning streak began in February 2012 in Indiana, the day then-Governor Mitch Daniels signed the Indiana Right to Work Bill into law.
The National Right to Work Committee had specifically targeted Indiana, viewing it as the key to spreading Right to Work throughout the Midwest.
“We knew Indiana’s neighbors would fear being left behind in the scramble to attract new jobs, because companies and entrepreneurs prefer to create jobs in Right to Work states, where their well-treated employees would be less likely to be targeted by Big Labor, because they couldn’t be forced to pay dues,” commented Mr. Mix.
And the strategy appears to have worked.
Less than a year after passage of Indiana’s Right to Work Law, Michigan, which many people saw as the “home turf” of organized labor, passed a Right to Work law of its own.
Wisconsin became the 25th Right to Work state in 2015, West Virginia became the 26th in 2016, and in 2017 the pace increased even further.
Riding the Right to Work issue, Republicans in the Kentucky House went from being a 6-seat minority to a 28-seat majority. Right to Work was the first item on their agenda, and they passed it in record time, putting the bill on Governor Matt Bevin’s desk in early January. Bevin signed it immediately.
And just a few weeks later, Missouri joined the ranks of the Right to Work states, becoming the 28th. The Republican House and Senate had passed a Right to Work bill in 2015, only to see it vetoed by then-Governor Jay Nixon. That veto elevated the Right to Work issue to the forefront of the 2016 Governor’s race, with Republican Eric Greitens campaigning strongly on the issue. Greitens won the election, and happily signed the Right to Work bill into law.
Mr. Mix says the recent string of victories, as well as increasing support in Congress for the National Right to Work Act, is due to two factors: Right to Work’s economic impact, and its popularity:
“The politicians are beginning to figure out what most Americans already knew: Right to Work is not only sound public policy, but it’s also good politics.
“Voluntary association is a quintessential American ideal, and the case for Right to Work has always rested on the principles of employee freedom, but passage of a National Right to Work law will also pay economic dividends. Studies demonstrate that workers in Right to Work states enjoy greater private sector job growth and higher disposable incomes than their counterparts in states without Right to Work protections.
“The Right to Work principle is also popular with the public. Polls consistently show that 80 percent of Americans and union members support the principle of voluntary unionism, and the last several elections have provided plenty of evidence to back it up. Politicians that vote for and campaign on Right to Work have been winning. Proponents of forced unionism have been losing.”
But Mr. Mix and the National Right to Work Committee believe now is the time to solve the problem of forced unionism at its roots, in federal law.
“A National Right to Work Act enshrines worker freedom while providing significant economic benefits for workers,” declared Mr. Mix. “The National Right to Work Committee is mobilizing its 2.8 million members to call on their Representatives and Senators to support the National Right to Work Act.”
The National bill has been introduced over the last several Congresses, with increasing levels of support and public interest. Record numbers of Representatives and Senators now support the legislation, and President Donald Trump has promised to sign it.
The National Right to Work Committee, established in 1955, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, single-purpose citizens’ organization dedicated to the principle that all Americans must have the right to join a union if they choose to, but none should ever be forced to affiliate with a union in order to get or keep a job. Its web address is www.nrtwc.org.