Skip to comments.What a Union Looks Like in a RTW State
Posted on 03/27/2014 1:34:04 PM PDT by MichCapCon
As auto manufacturing has shifted to the South, the UAW has made a push to begin unionizing workers in right-to-work states.
The words and actions of union officials are interesting compared to states where workers are still forced to pay money to the union.
On the website for a UAW chapter in Alabama, which is trying to organize workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant, the union writes the following in its FAQ section:
Q: Do I have to join the union? A: First of all remember Alabama is a Right to Work state; therefore, it is totally voluntary whether or not you decide to join the union and pay union dues. If you think your local union is doing a good job representing you and in negotiations for improvements then we hope you will join. If you feel it isnt then it is your right not to join.
Q: Alabama is a "Right to Work" state. What does "Right to Work" mean?
A: The law speaks to one narrow issue. The right to work law means that Mercedes employees have the right to join or not join the union. It is the employee's choice. It does NOT mean that workers in Alabama don't have the right to form unions. They do. In fact, there are many workers all over the country including in Alabama who have strong, effective unions in so-called "right to work" states.
Contrast that with Michigan, where it is said that right-to-work laws "destroy unions," "eliminates the middle class," and will lead to "blood." Where unions harass teachers, intimidate employees who disagree, and freeload off of members with the spending of dues or fees on issues with which they don't agree.
As the UAW branch in Alabama notes, right-to-work laws change nothing about collective bargaining other than making it illegal to fire a worker for not paying money to a union. This choice means the union is more responsive to its membership. If it isn't, well, "it is your right not to join."
In the broader sense, “Right to Work” means that no union can enforce a union membership as a requirement to work at the plant, unlike in many northern states. It’s a limitation on the union as much as a freedom to the worker.
RTW in Michigan has already shown results and will continue to show results in coming years.
RTW states are going to get more businesses. I think Maine will be a RTW state soon, LePage is trying to get it done.
I read something about an Indiana plastics company announcement that they would be opening a shop in Hillsdale county.
While I am FAR from being a UAW supporter, I will give ANYONE, including them, credit, where it is due. In this case they are giving ACCURATE information. If you want, pay the dues, join the union - if not, that is also your right.
Sounds like FREEDOM to me.
The union can still do the traditional, "it would be a shame if you got hurt" sales pitch. I got that warning many decades ago and have never forgiven the evil thugs who run unions.
The latest one-Wisconsin’s RTW law, is significantly broader in scope than Act 10, the law Wisconsin passed a few short years ago.RTW deals with private sector relationships while Act 10 dealt only with public sector relationships.This is one key difference. In fact, I think Act 10 didn’t go far enough, still allowing for public unions and exempting police and fire from the Act entirely.
In my view, public servants shouldn’t have the option to organize at all. Too often, those representing the taxpayer in that relationship are inherently conflicted because they were elected with the endorsement and assistance of the very unions they are supposed to be up against.In too many circumstances, there is an inherent conflict of interest in the public sector that renders moot the idea of competing interests acting to balance any agreement. Everyone is sitting on the union side of the table.
The private sector is a bit different, especially in the construction industry.In the construction industry, labor law is governed by a unique set of rules established under section 8(f) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).What this means essentially is that employers voluntarily enter into contracts with trade unions (e.g. carpenters, pipefitters, electricians) to provide skill training, health plans, and pension plans that are jointly managed under the structure of a trust arrangement.
So why might an employer engage in such an arrangement?
Primarily, it has to do with the nature of the construction industry, in which companies need to have the ability to scale up and scale down with ease and a minimum of red tape.Unions can provide a ready pool of skilled workers who come to the job site with the requisite training an employer is looking for because the employer helps develop the training program and helps run the training centers.
In addition, the multi-employer health pool (authorized under the Taft-Hartley) eliminates the burden of signing up an employee for health care every time he walks on the job. So long as the employee has his card, he is seamless and portable for health insurance.The voluntary pooling of health care also allows the health trust to negotiate better prices in the marketplace. Another factor that makes these relationships with the union attractive is that the choice to become union is just that - a choice.If the union is unreasonable in its demands or too intransigent in bargaining, the employer simply allows the collective bargaining agreement to expire and walks away.
This, combined with the competitive pressures to compete with non-union shops, tends to create a far more cooperative relationship with employers than otherwise exists in other industries.For example, there is no such thing as “seniority” in the union trades. Yes, there are different skill levels but there is no benefit to having more experience than another guy.
Another example is pay. In these contracts, there is no paid time off. No vacation, no sick pay, no holiday pay.If you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid.These and some others are reasons why some construction companies choose to be union.
In my opinion,this is why Wisconsin’s law is too broad.Those job creators who voluntarily choose to enter into a privately negotiated contract should be free to bargain the terms of that contract, including a provision that calls for every employee of the employer to be in the union and pay dues.Government should not insert itself into this private arrangement and dictate to the employer what can or cannot be in his contract.In other words, this RTW bill turns the concept of “freedom” on its head.It’s not employee who needs freedom in this case. It’s the employer who should have the freedom to require union membership in their workplace.The employer is the job creator. He is the one who built the workplace and the one who owns and controls it. His/her right to control their workplace trumps the “right” of an employee to ignore the requirement of union membership.
And what about the employee? In the construction industry, any skilled tradesman who desires to be free of union membership has the ultimate freedom - work at a non-union company.There are thousands of non-union shops that boast of not a single speck of unionism. They are union free and proud of it. Put your application there.
The problem with the current law is that it seeks give legal protection to the person who would take a paycheck from his employer, enjoy union benefits as well, and then decide that they will defy the employer and not belong to the union.In other words, the Wisconsin bill accomplishes two things that are completely inconsistent with conservative philosophy.One, it injects government into private contractual relationships.Two, it creates an incentive for free riders who enjoy benefits but don’t pay for them. Federal law prohibits unions and employers from unequal treatment in the union, meaning, for example, that members who don’t pay dues can come to the training center but not pay.
Most unions are out of control and in need of reform but we also need to recognize there are some situations where this is not the case.It’s not as black and white as some might think.
OK, so the real solution is to eliminate those federal laws. Most specifically including those laws which allow unions to commit violence and sabotage during strikes, and not have themselves prosecuted under RICO and other statutes.
For a union to survive, they MUST have the ability to cause damage in a strike. Otherwise, a strike just becomes a mass resignation. Without the ability to threaten strike breakers with violence, and threaten struck companies with sabotage, unions would be less powerful.
I would eliminate any federal law which requires the union to collectively bargain on behalf of anybody beyond their own membership, or have to offer training to anybody beyond their own dues-paying membership.
In turn, businesses should be allowed to respond to union demands with a simple "No, you are all fired. And any union member caught trespassing on company property and attempting sabotage will be shot on sight".
A friend of mine was running a duct-cleaning business. He would frequently get workers from a temp agency called Labor Ready. He would call up, say "I need X number of people at this job site", and they would show up. It's increasingly common to get workers from such companies. The difference from a union is, you can say "I'm not going to need your people, I found another source" without worrying about getting your business burned down.
I'm all for the existence of outfits that supply skilled workers on demand, and who undertake to provide training for their people. I'm against any suck outfit declaring it has a monopoly on supplying a particular type of skill, enforced through violence or intimidation.
Don't tell me unions do not engage in violence and intimidation, I've worked in companies that were union shops.
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