Aug 10, 2007

Join the fight against union busting petition drive and join new Facebook group

People who truly care about workers and their rights, progressives and friends of labor are fighting back against the Republicans all-out war against unions and working people with their so-called “right to work” campaign.

After recent news that a rightwing, anti-union operative has set up a Facebook group to launch a preemptive petition drive to put the question on the ballot if current legislation in the state House and Senate fails, progressives and liberals have set up a counter Facebook group called “Michigan Union Supporters.”

This is a small step toward trying to stop the trend that has seen the gap between the rich and the working class widen like it never has before, the decline of the middle class and the workplace again becoming a dangerous place again, but it’s a start toward that goal.

Unions have raised the standard of living for all workers, both non-union and union, and it has improved work and safety conditions for all workers so that the workplace is no longer a death trap. We can expect to see massive amounts of disinformation as the war on workers movers forward, and this group will be just one resource in countering that common tactic of the right.

This effort from the Republicans is an assault on worker wages, and a more descriptive name for this law should be the right to work for less law or the right to work and risk your life and health law. This is also an assault on wages and just one part of the appalling race to the bottom that we cannot win, and the average worker in a so-called “right to work” state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states. It will be an assault on sane rules and regulations that protect the life and limbs of workers but cut into the stakeholder profits, and according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with so-called “right to work” laws.

Join the fight today.


Chet said...

Right to work laws don't change a single safety regulation. They merely give workers the choice of whether they want to be in a union or not. America was founded on liberty - are you seriously suggesting that people not having a choice of who they want to associate with is right?

Do you have so much pessimism in American workers that you believe they can't handle a choice? So little confidence in unions that you believe they will collapse because they can't persuade people to stay with them?

Communications guru said...

You are 100 percent wrong. Right to work for less laws destroy unions and unions forced manage to implement safety regulations. Federal law already gives a person the choice not to join a union, and that same federal law required the union to represent that non-union member. You know that. If, for example, a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union must finance the expensive legal proceedings to defend him or her. This is typical of your party that wants something for nothing: they don’t want to pay taxes but benefit from what they pay for. You have no shame to try and sell me that crap about liberty.

I have all the confidence in the world in American workers, but I don’t share that same trust and confidence in your investors that are only driven by the bottom line.

Again, this is typical of your party that wants something for nothing, and you and I both know this is nothing but a union-busting effort. How can you benefit from something and use something and expect it to survive but refuse to pay your fair share? How are those investors coming?

Anonymous said...

A Liberal Is Someone Who’s Liberal With Other People’s Money,
And A Reactionary-That’s Someone
Who Can Count

dub said...

“right to work’ laws don’t give workers the choice of whether they want to be in a union or not. Workers already can make that choice in MI. “right to work” laws prevent union members from collecting the cost of representing non-members, something the law requires them to do. When the law requires you do provide expensive legal services and denies you the right to collect for them, something’s very wrong. This is nothing more than a transparent attempt to financially break unions.

I have every confidence unions can make their argument and workers will choose unions when the fear of loosing their jobs in the process is removed.

I also have confidence in humanities baser desire to get something for nothing, especially when the guilt is removed by making it legal, which is why there’s so much corporate money behind this movement.

Do we really think business cares if workers have to pay for what they get? If they did, they could start with health care. Business has worked to destroy the power of workers collective action since 1935. Taft-Hartley was the first big victory and they’ve never let up. This is more of the same and sadly there winning.

You can be against unions, many are, but don’t spin this as a workers rights, workers choice issue. Let’s just call it what it is and have the debate – or, don’t the “right to work” advocates have the confidence they can make the argument with the truth?

Communications guru said...

Thank you for posting, Dub. I agree with you 100 percent, and I have pointed that fact out to the union-busting advocates like Zarko here when they try floating the lie that the right to work for less law will allow workers not to be in a union because the law already gives then that option. However, I appreciate you further clarifying it.

Chet said...

You write:

You are 100 percent wrong. Right to work for less laws destroy unions...

Can you offer me evidence of unions that were "destroyed" by Right to Work laws? Let's see the data. And to be "100% wrong", that would imply that no union anywhere in the nearly half of all RTW states survived. You've got plenty of opportunity for data, too.

On the other hand, even if one doesn't like RTW, you have to admit that employers are more likely to go to such a state, and Michigan is losing jobs to those states. So, your essentially trading jobs for union leaders making a bit more in dues.

Again, you show your proclivity for extreme exaggeration and statements without evidence.

Chet said...

As to your point about opting out of unions now, yes, people can, but why what choice is it really if you have to continue paying the agency fees? Telling me "you have a choice" and then saying "we still get to take your money" no matter what isn't really a choice.

Communications guru said...

Again, people have the choice of being in a union or not being in a union, and you claimed the right to work for less law gave them a choice. That would make you a liar. Why should people who opt out get something for nothing that everyone else is paying for?

Chet said...

I claimed it gives them a choice of whether or not to be compelled to pay union dues. That makes me a truth teller.

Why should people be compelled to pay for something they would choose not to participate in? The fact that Taft-Hartley requires BOTH unions and corporations to treat non-union employees equally and fairly under the terms of any contract should hardly be cause for you to complain. That was part of the package of benefits the unions received with such protective legislation - and the law explicitly allowed for states to adopt Right to Work laws. You can't claim that wasn't part of the deal when the laws were passed. I simply believe that the people of Michigan should have an opportunity to vote on this question. If they vote no, so be it.

Communications guru said...

Sorry. You again are misrepresenting your position. On this very blog you told me workers do not have a choice of joining a union or not, but in fact they have always had a choice.

“Why should people be compelled to pay for something they would choose not to participate in?” You can’t be serious? You know the answer to this and you know my answer to it because I have posted it many times. For the very same reason the taxes I pay are being used to fight a useless and senseless war I do not support.

dub said...

So called right-to-work laws are state statutes that make it illegal for union members to collect fees for services the law requires them to provide.

The National Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1935. It gave workers the right to organize and bargain labor contracts. There were few restrictions on what workers could negotiate and most union contracts required membership in the union as a condition of employment. If the union expelled a worker, they would loose their job.

Union workers argued they needed to be able to discipline members who threatened the collective memberships ability to maintain high enough professional standards of skills, conduct and performance to demand the higher standard of living they were seeking.

Businesses accepted these provisions because of the power of workers unions and there was a fundamental alignment of interests in maintaining high levels of skills and standards of productivity and conduct.

However there was significant opposition to unions having powers that most businesses saw as their exclusive right, the right to hire and fire, and a national movement was started to amend the law to, among other things, eliminate the unions right to negotiate a membership requirement – union security – contract clause.

The proponents made the argument that every worker should have the “right-to-work” for any business willing to employ them without interference from workers unions.

In 1947 Taft-Hartly was passed into law by the first Republican Congress since 1932 over the veto of President Truman. Among other things Taft-Hartly made requiring union membership as a condition of employment illegal. With the enactment of Taft-Hartley, the argument that every American worker should have the right to work for any willing employer won and the issue was settled.

So why is the Right-to-work issue still with us today?

Recognizing and fearing the voice strong unions gave workers in determining public policy, the right to work movement tried to amend Federal labor law to make it illegal to negotiate a contract that would require both membership, and paying dues to support the contract. Although the original campaign wasn’t entirely successful, it worked well enough to stick with the slogan and, if your not too concerned about how much the voter clearly understands the issue, it has a strong appeal to American ideals.

Although they tried and are still trying today – to date, at the Federal level, they have failed to make it illegal for workers to negotiate the ability to collect fees for services the law requires them to provide.

However, they were able to get a provision in the 1947 Taft-Hartly Act, Section 14(b), that makes it legal for any state to enact a provision that is more restrictive than the Federal law.

Florida’s State Constitution prohibited free collective bargaining in 1944. Still flush with the excitement of the passage of Taft-Hartley, eleven states with business dominated legislative bodies immediately enacted so called right-to-work laws in 1947. In the continuing campaign, during the period of 1951-1958 six more states prohibited free collective bargaining, as well as one in 1963, one in 1976, one in 1986 and the most recent in 2001 for a total of twenty two states.

After the twelve original non-industrial, rural states acted on the momentum generated by Taft-Hartley, over the next sixty years, in spite of hundreds of millions of dollars spent conducting multiple champagnes in all thirty eight free bargaining states, only ten states, themselves non-industrial states, have passed Right-to-work legislation.

On the face of it most reasonable people will recognize this as an absurd principle. If anyone were to propose a law that would require members of any other group or organization to provide legal services and representation – and legally prevent them from collecting fees for providing them it would be laughable.

The US Supreme Court recognized this in its 1977 ruling in Abood V. Detroit Board of Education:

“The union shop arrangement has been thought to distribute fairly the cost of these (representative) activities among those who benefit, and it contracts the incentive that employees might otherwise have to become ‘free riders’ – to refuse to contribute to the union while obtaining benefits of union representation that necessarily accrue to all employees.”

Peter Drucker, Management Consultant, underscored this principal when he stated:

“Union security is also in the social interest. Without it, no union can be expected to accept the responsibility for labor relations and for the contract observance which our society must demand for a successful union movement”

Now that bills which would prohibit free collective bargaining in Michigan have been introduced in the legislature it is likely we will be hearing a lot more about right-to-work leading up to the next election. We as union members have to be clear about the difference between what this law will do and what the propagandists will be telling us it will do.

When a campaign rolls out, it’s important we remember campaigns don’t focus on what laws do but what the advocates hope their effect will be. As the old sales adage says, don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.

We will gleefully be told how prohibiting free bargaining (right-to-work) will cure everything wrong with the business atmosphere in Michigan today. They will gush with enthusiasm about what a bright future we and our children can look forward to when we’ve seen the light and cast a vote for Michigan by adopting Right-to-work. At a time when we are having a hard time seeing the possibilities, we will be assured the possibilities will be endless when Michigan is a right to work state. They will hold out an answer when we desperately want and need an answer. The question is, is it the right answer?

What this law will do is certain. It will make the union security contract clause illegal and allow workers covered under a contract not to pay the cost of representing them back to the union. And, because the US Supreme Court has held that all employees who are part of a bargaining unit have the right to the same level of representation as coworkers who've joined the union and pay dues, it will put a financial drain on every union in the state.

Right to work is not about rights, it is about money.

It’s difficult to see how making some workers pay for other workers legal services and representation will turn our economy around, which is precisely why there will be a media campaign to sell this scam to Michigan. We will not be told by the propagandists hired by right-to-work’s backers about its effect on union members …and we most certainly will not hear about what the real goals and intents of the people backing the movement are.

It is our responsibility to understand and remind the citizens of our great State what right-to-work is – a political power play to take away the workers voice.

The post in a Washington D.C. based conservative Blog called the First Friday Collective gives us some insight:

“Labor unions like the UAW have negotiated into their contracts that they get election days off so they can subsidize the Democratic Party’s efforts to win by getting workers to work the polls. … the mere fact that it is written into their contract and the UAW is consistently liberal are great arguments for “right to work” laws.”

Whether they’re right about union workers politics or not, their perception and motivation is clear – to them, right-to-work isn’t about workers rights or fairness or choice, it’s a useful tool to weaken unions role in the democratic process.

Proponents will claim it is a workers choice and workplace democracy issue. We’ll be told a right-to-work law is a “necessary” component for a full economic recovery in Michigan. We will be told a right-to-work law will allow Michigan business to become more competitive in a world market and provide more jobs.

Weakening unions is and has been a national goal for people who oppose worker rights to have an effective voice in the workplace and the democratic process. The Labor Union gave workers a voice and there’s been a systematic 72 year campaign to silence that voice. Right-to-work has always been a means to an end. Along with local initiatives, out-state corporate and business interests will spend millions of dollars to tell Michigan’s citizens our economic problems are not because of Federal trade laws that allowed and even encouraged the deindustrialization of America, which have had the biggest impact on high standard of living, unionized industrial states like Michigan – It’s workers Unions that are killing American business.

Michigan workers will be told Union workers make too much and have too much power over business and government. Michigan will be told it can’t rise up until they are brought down.

We know that’s not the truth. Right-to-work is only part, albeit an important and powerful part, of a comprehensive strategy to take advantage of the fear and anger of the American worker today and turn it against themselves by giving them a target, Unions.

In order to accept the notion that right-to-work is the answer to Michigan’s economic woes, you have to accept two arguments:

One, that organizations with worker friendly sounding names like The National Right to Work Foundation, Americans for Limited Government, the Alliance for Worker Freedom and other front organizations – who get their support and backing from businesses and organizations such as the US and Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the largest coalition of businesses in the state and country, the National Association of Manufactures and companies like Wal-Mart and Coors, both well known for anti-worker practices here and around the world, and who support powerful individuals such as former Congressman Tom DeLay who introduced a bill calling for a national right-to-work law, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and others who clearly put working citizens economic interests in the category of a necessary consequence of business success – will have the right answer for what is in the best interest of working class Michiganders.

And two, that answer is to make it illegal for union members to collect fees for services the law requires them to provide.

Communications guru said...

Excellent post and history of the union busting move behind right to work for less laws. Your first sentence really sums it all up: “So called right-to-work laws are state statutes that make it illegal for union members to collect fees for services the law requires them to provide.