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Tricks Without Treats!
Harmonious Working Environment
Once again disingenuous efforts of the far right Republican (Tea) Party has reared its ugly head to create dissension amongst the workforce. The sneaky and underhanded manner in which Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) got the Right-To-Work law passed in Michigan, only serves to show blatant disregard for the democratic process. To use a lame-duck session of his state's legislative body to sneak in that law through the backdoor, without the possibility of any public debate or discourse was purely a disgraceful and scandalous undertaking.
A brief understanding of both sides of the argument in general terms is necessary to form an opinion one way or the other. The main goal is to distinguish the points of view between management and workers rights, at the heart of the issue is fairness and harmony in the workplace. First, a right-to-work law is a statue here in the US, that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.
Understanding the basis of what the statute prohibits, the union security agreement is the crux of the entire argument. A union security agreement is a contractual agreement, usually part of a union collective bargaining agreement, in which an employer and a trade or labor union agree on the extent to which the union may compel employees to join the union, and/or whether the employer will collect dues, fees, and assessments on behalf of the union.
By definition the Trade Union (British English), Labour Union (Canadian English), or Labor Union (American English) is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals such as protecting the integrity of it's trade, achieving higher pay, increasing the number of employees an employer hires, and better working conditions. The Union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labor contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment.
Even with a basic explanation of the law itself as well as the above definitions of union security agreement and labor unions in general, it's easy to see how either side could misinterpret or misrepresent their sides of the argument. From a management or employer's side, they could see organized labor unions as hindrances to the company's bottom-line. From the Labor Unions' perspective they're sole purpose is to protect worker's rights, (i.e. safer workplace, better pay & working conditions, etc.). At different times in my life I've been a dues paying member of several major unions, I've found their existences in most every case or example to be beneficial on my behalf. As for the union dues, I felt they were a tad cumbersome but a necessary evil in the overall grand scheme of things.
While some jobs I've held could benefit greatly from having a union to represent the workers. In these so-call right-to-work states I've also found that the base / hourly pay rate to be lower than states without right-to-work laws on their books, for the same types of jobs. In these so called right-to-work states the turnover rate for most unskilled jobs are ridiculously high, because as soon as one person leaves or gets terminated they know the next several replacements are just a phone call away. If a person questions the nature of things happening around them, theycan and will be marginalized relatively quickly.
Case in point, I worked for this one company in a right to work state back east where workers only got one 15 minute and one 1/2 hour lunch break per 12 hour shift. Worker's production output were frowned upon, if certain quotas weren't met. Needless to say I didn't last a year there, because I questioned the way the break situation that was put in place. There was no organized labor union or collective bargaining agreement in place, so they got away with that sort of unfair labor practices.
For all of the hassles associated with labor unions I'd say a bare minimum of 98.997% of the time they're there looking out for the workers' rights on the job. I'd have to say from my personal experiences with organized labor unions that the Right-To-Work laws are wrong and the states that have these laws should repeal them instantly. Now that's not to say that every small business that opens it's doors need to be unionized, but common sense should be applied on an as needed basis.