Right to Work Laws Gain Steam Across The Country
By Gloria Taylor
Last week, Steve King (R-IA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) re-introduced the National Right to Work Act (H.R. 785) to provide more worker choice. National labor law currently requires employees to join a union and pay its dues as a condition of employment. King and Wilson’s bill strikes this provision by letting employees negotiate the terms of their employment, not union bosses.
While this bill sets the national policy on right to work laws, a majority of states have already passed legislation giving workers the option. This January, after the GOP took control of the statehouse, Kentucky became the 27th state to join the team. Just this week, Missouri also made the change, and their new governor signed a right to work bill after running on right to work as the pathway to job creation and rising wages. New Hampshire will likely approve a similar bill and lead the way for states in the Northeast to reject compulsory union membership.
While right to work laws give unions the incentive to legitimately attract employee membership and ensure workers won’t have their hard earned paycheck spent on political causes, Congress ought to consider additional protections. The abuse of union power only begins at the negotiation of employment. Right to work laws successfully remove barriers for persons entering the job market, but legislation like the Employee Right Act (ERA) goes a long way to put power back in workers hands once they have the job.
Nowadays an astonishing 94% of union members never voted to unionize, leaving union bosses largely unaccountable to their members. The ERA fixes that by calling for re-elections, guaranteeing employees the right to a secret ballot before joining a union, ensures dues aren’t spent on purposes other than collective bargaining without consent, prevents ambush union elections to give employers time to work directly with employees, and provides other legal protections for employees.
Both the ERA and National Right to Work Law take major steps to ensure labor unions best serve employees interests above all. Given a GOP majority and supportive White House, Congress must seize the opportunity to give employees their freedom, and paycheck, back.