What do right-to-work laws actually do?
The controversy over new legislation in Michigan is drawing new attention to these statutes and their impact on unions and businesses.
It's been a momentous week in the history of U.S. labor relations. On Tuesday, Michigan lawmakers voted to ban compulsory union fees in a state known for its strong labor unions, especially within the auto industry.
As a result, Michigan will soon become the 24th state with right-to-work laws -- which
BusinessDictionary.com defines as "legislation that allows a person to work at any place of employment without being forced to join a union as a condition of employment."
And while no one seems to disagree with that definition, there's widespread debate on both sides of the political spectrum about what right-to-work laws actually do.
Supporters of right-to-work laws say they are fighting against "forced unionism," which can hurt big and small businesses, while at the same time making states more attractive to potential employers.
Right-to-work laws "have a proven track record of encouraging economic growth," says blogger Will Collins on the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation website.
But right-to-work statutes, according to the Washington Post's WonkBlog, "are broadly understood to erode the influence and power of organized labor -- if unions have harder time collecting money for the services they offer, they’ll have fewer resources to work with."
The Roanoke-based law firm of Frith & Ellerman, which specializes in business litigation, says the term "right-to-work" has led many workers in Virginia to believe those laws protect employees' jobs. But according to the firm's web site, the opposite is true.
"You have very little protection when it comes to your job," they note. "Unless you have an employment contract that defines how you can be fired, under Virginia law, you can be fired for any reason other than your race, age, gender or religious beliefs."
President Obama waded into the controversy on Monday during a visit to Michigan -- saying the right-to-work laws "don't have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics."
And there certainly is a political divide on the issue -- pitting traditionally pro-union Democrats against Big Business-supporting Republicans on a state and national level.
But the reality is that, as in American politics, there is now a nearly-even split between U.S. states with and without right-to-work laws.
The unions, meanwhile, are looking for ways to fight back."Symbolically, it's a huge setback," United Auto Workers President Bob King told the Wall Street Journal, following the legislative vote in Michigan. "Maybe it will awaken a sleeping giant."
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I worked at Electric Boat Co. (EB) of General Dynamics Corp fo over 32 years. The union representation was the UAW, most commonly referred to as United Against Work. Our Union president at the time was EB hater, regardless of what the company offered , he was out to get the and make them pay/ Some time in 1980, the negotiations faltered and it seemed like a stroke was immanent. Well, on a Friday', when some of the union members returned from lunch, many of then already knew there was going to be a strike as they returned to work with Airline tickets ready to fly wherever they were going "JOB SHOPPING;. People in the industry knew what this terminology is, and a beg of UAW men and woman ere off and running to the Midwest and South to Newport News,,Va.. and Biloxi , Miss.
When the strike was finally settled some nine or more months, workers were required to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs. I and
many of us were not too happy with this edict as we felt it was discrimination. But discretion being the better part of valor and stayed till I retired.
I was very glad to see that the Union had been defeated not only in Michigan but also in Wisconsin. When people start to realize that they are not waxing fat from belonging to the union and see that the union upper echelon are the ones who are reaping the benefits of their unon dues, they perhaps will think more than twice before advocating joining a union.
Just remember, these laws do not concern only union people!
Right to work, and terminate without cause can and does create a workplace
that allows bosses to threaten YOUR job if you do not do what they want.
And what they want may be for YOU to do something illegal, or unethical.
(Remember Enron and all those other companies? It was not just the high levels that cooked the books, lower level employees had to go along with the fraud of the higher ups.)
Expect a lot more fraud, as these laws get passed.
If the union is great why would anyone not want to join? Afterall, they are not doing away with unions, just giving workers the FREEDOM to choose.
Have you seen the union thugs on TV? Dumb and violent.
55 years old and never belonged to a union, i have had great paying jobs and always been able to work my way up.
no union, work hard more pay and they keep you. work sucks they let you go
union, work hard they keep you, work sucks they still keep you.
why would you want a union when all you have to do is work hard
Wages go in the toilet with "RIGHT TO WORK".You get what you pay for.Pay people
minimum wage and you get the minimum.I gave all my employees A $1000
Christmas bonus.My employees are like family and I want to keep them.Paye crap
and you get crap and high turnover.It`s amazing that some businesses never learn.
Life is great!
Chris Van Hollen & Elizabeth Warren in 2016 & 2020!
God bless Mom & Pop stores!
God bless unions and living wages!
DIE big and unregulated corporations and DIE Ayn Rand Capitalism, DIE!
God bless America!
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