Pro-Forced Unionism Academic: ‘It Is a Symbolic Tipping Point’
(Click here to download the March 2015 National Right to Work Newsletter)
Just before this edition of the National Right to Work Newsletter went to press, Wisconsin became the 25th state to adopt a Right to Work law prohibiting union officials from taking money from employees’ paychecks as a condition of getting or keeping a job.
The state Senate voted, 17-15, to approve S.B.44, which prohibits the firing of employees for refusal to pay union dues or fees, late on Wednesday, February 25 after a long day of often acrimonious debate among legislators, occasionally interrupted by angry outbursts from union militants in the gallery.
Nine days later, the state Assembly gave the green light to an identical measure by a far wider 62-35 margin, even as protests by infuriated union officials and their followers and allies continued. Finally, on March 9, Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the Right to Work Bill into law.
‘Every Worker Should Be Able To Pay Dues to a Union, But No One Should Be Forced’
“On behalf of all National Right to Work Committee members, I offer my warm congratulations to freedom-loving Wisconsinites and the elected officials who heeded their pleas to stand up to Big Labor,” said Committee President Mark Mix.
Mr. Mix specifically mentioned state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Senate Labor Chairman Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
“The National Committee has for years been calling upon candidates for state office in Wisconsin to pledge 100% support for Right to Work, and giving encouragement and counsel to grass-roots citizens seeking to pass a state law revoking union officials’ forced-dues and forced-fee privileges,” Mr. Mix noted.
“Every worker should be able to pay dues to a union, but no one should be forced.
“We have long foreseen and predicted passage of a Wisconsin Right to Work law. But if you had asked me just a few years ago when this would happen, I’d have never guessed it might occur as soon as March 2015.”
There are numerous reasons why Badger State foes of compulsory unionism were ultimately able to succeed in curbing private-sector union bosses’ monopoly privileges sooner than their counterparts in what might seem like less difficult terrain elsewhere in the country.
National Right to Work Committee’s Assistance Included Massive Phone & E-Mail Mobilization
“One important factor,” noted Mr. Mix, “was the outspoken and unflagging support for Right to Work offered by
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce [WMC], the state’s largest business organization.
“While business owners and managers, along with employees, retirees, and other citizens from all walks of life, are strongly supportive of the Right to Work in every state, business representatives in state capitals often unfortunately don’t regard workplace freedom as an important objective.
“But WMC made it clear to elected officials that compulsory unionism was an obstacle to improving the state’s business climate that simply had to be removed.”
The National Right to Work Committee’s own assistance included a massive phone and e-mail mobilization of freedom-loving Wisconsinites that began within hours after Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Vos announced on Friday, February 20 that a “special session” to consider Right to Work legislation would commence the following Monday.
And independently from such mobilization efforts, Right to Work’s research affiliate, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, supplied elected officials, journalists, policy organizations, and ordinary citizens with information advancing the moral and economic case for forced-dues repeal.
Probably the most important contribution of all made by National Right to Work to freedom-loving Wisconsinites’ victory was the Committee’s work since 2003 in helping build legislative and public support for the 23rd state Right to Work law in Indiana.
Pro-Right to Work Hoosiers’ Early 2012 Victory Set Off a Chain Reaction
“A dozen years ago,” recalled Mr. Mix, “when few political observers considered expanding Right to Work protections to the Great Lakes region to be a serious possibility, a group of determined Hoosiers launched a determined effort to do precisely that in their home state.
“From the beginning, the National Committee assisted the efforts of these citizens and the organization they soon put into high gear, the Indiana Right to Work Committee.
“And now, just a little more than three years after the Indiana Right to Work law was signed in February 2012, two more Great Lakes states, Michigan and Wisconsin, have Right to Work laws on the books.
“Our Wisconsin allies agree with us that pro-Right to Work Hoosiers’ victory 37 months ago set off a chain reaction that has made it far less difficult to challenge the forced-unionism status quo in the Great Lakes region and around the country.
‘But I Didn’t Want To Go to Green Bay’
“And after S.B.44 was approved by the Wisconsin Senate, even pro-forced unionism Marquette University law professor Paul Secunda acknowledged that, once half of the 50 states had Right to Work laws, it would constitute a ‘symbolic tipping point,’” Mr. Mix concluded.
The new Wisconsin Right to Work statute differs from the vast majority of other such laws inasmuch as it bars only private-sector forced union dues and fees.
However, with the unfortunate exceptions of most public-safety and transportation workers, Wisconsin’s state and local public servants, including teachers, are shielded from compulsory union assessments by Act 10, the wide-ranging budgetary and labor-policy reform signed by Gov. Walker in 2011.
No one should underestimate the importance of restoring employees’ Right to Work.
As Committee Vice President Greg Mourad explained in testimony before the Wisconsin Senate labor committee on February 24, an employee forced to pay dues to an unwanted union is like a pedestrian standing in front of a building when a cab pulls up.
Two strangers grab him and pull him into the taxi, where the driver announces they’re heading to Green Bay, whether the kidnappee likes it or not, because that’s where the two kidnappers want to go, and the “majority rules.” Moreover, the kidnappee owes the driver $100 for his “share” of the fare.
Of course, his plaintive protest, “But I didn’t want to go to Green Bay” falls on deaf ears.
‘Right to Work Supporters Won’t Rest on Their Laurels’
“Thanks to freedom-loving citizens in Wisconsin and their allies across the country, nearly 47% of America’s private-sector employees now live in states with Right to Work protections,” noted Mr. Mix.
“Just four years ago, fewer than 40% of private-sector employees across the U.S. were covered by Right to Work laws.
“It’s a record of which the voluntary-unionism movement should be proud. But Right to Work supporters won’t rest on their laurels. We won’t be satisfied as long as a single employee anywhere in the country is forced to fork over union fees in order to keep his or her job.”