The Myth of Right to Work Laws
August 23, 2023

This is America. Everyone has the right to work. Citizens can work under various terms and conditions granted to them by their employer. The issue is fair compensation for the productive employment of America’s workforce. Labor unions are at the forefront of attaining this compensation for all working families. 

The so-called “right-to-work” legislation put forth by corporate America, the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce and other powerful and well-financed groups has one common goal – a union-free America. 

This well-advertised phrase has nothing to do with a person’s right to work. It is an apparatus to undermine the financial stability of a labor union, thus eroding that union’s ability to represent those members in the collective bargaining process. The right-to-work thesis is that people who do not wish to pay union dues should not be forced to do so, however, under this thesis, those same people shall receive the same benefits as those members who pay their fair share to provide funding to that union, which collectively bargains for their wages, health benefits and pension benefits. 

Federal law requires that a labor union must represent all employees, regardless if they choose not to pay union dues. This may include legal representation in a filed grievance procedure. Allow me to illustrate with a simple analogy. A family lives in a community. This community has a yearly contribution to the civic association. This yearly contribution pays for landscaping at the entrances to the community, playground equipment for the children of the community, snow removal after a snowstorm and various other expenses that may arise. 

Some residents, for one reason or another, may choose not to pay the yearly dues to a civic association but still receive the same benefits as those residents who pay their fair share. Due to the fact that some residents did not pay their dues, the civic association must raise the yearly assessment to continue to pay for those services. 

To allow people to benefit from collective bargaining without paying their fair share of the costs is really what this legislation is about. As I mentioned, people have the right to work. They need to make educated decisions to benefit their families. Most of them have no choice but to work for stagnant wages, minimal health benefits – read: higher co-pays – and a pension benefit that can be obliterated by a downturn in the stock market. That is their right to work under those conditions.

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