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The National Right to Work Act
An act that has been under the radar in recent days is a new piece of legislation involving the principle of an individual’s right to work without the requirement to join a union. The principle of right to work is familiar to individuals in over 20 states and now this principle is getting attention at the federal level. I recently became aware of legislation in both houses of Congress addressing our right to work. States that have passed legislation regarding this principle by some reports have benefited economically though some organizations may dispute this statement.
Our country is a great country and the freedom we have today to join an organization in which we have an interest is our right. The job picture today is not a pleasant situation for the millions of individuals out of work and it will take some changes such as the legislation being discussed in this article to impact the job picture now and in the future. Forcing an individual to join a union to have a job is contrary to the principles upon which this country was found. It restricts our right to work anywhere we want provided we have the qualifications and are offered a position. The right to work is a principle which everyone should embrace regardless of whether you are a union member or not. Every individual has the right to work without a requirement to join a union and pay dues. Unions need to present their case to potential members as to how they would be benefited from joining them.
The legislation in Congress involved in this principle are Senate bill S.2173 and the House H.R. 2020. Each year union members pay dues to the union to which they belong but the way some unions spend money on political activity leaves a bad taste in the mouths of union members. Looking at the language of these legislative actions it is not an attempt to be what some may consider union busting legislation though some may disagree. The main principle appears to be to provide more freedom for the American worker in pursuing jobs in which they have an interest and are qualified.
Government legislation is an action which is often met with some resistance in the approaches taken but the principle of the right to work is aimed at providing more freedom not less for the American worker. Requiring individuals to pay union dues to either get or keep a job is not something we as Americans should be embracing and the legislation being processed in Congress needs to have our support for its passage. It is unclear whether the political climate we are in today with it being an election year whether this legislation will become law but it should.
Two excerpts from these legislative acts are provided below. The Senate legislation S.2173 (National Right to Work Act) and the House version H.R.2040 states in the summary
“Amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal those provisions that permit employers, pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement that is a union security agreement, to require employees to join a union as a condition of employment (including provisions permitting railroad carriers to require, pursuant to such an agreement, payroll deduction of union dues or fees as a condition of employment).”
The fact that both pieces of legislation use the same language in the summary indicates they ultimately have the same goal to give more freedom to the American worker in removing barriers to getting a job. The question is whether this activity will ever make it into law during this election year.
The results in the Wisconsin recall election provides an indication to some extent that what was acceptable in the past may not be acceptable in the future. While the results were about recalling Governor Walker looking at the bigger picture what was considered normal and acceptable has changed. Unions of the past have done much for the American worker but today it seems to be about politics and supporting candidates with union funds who may or may not be supported by their membership. The question to be asked about this activity is does political activity agree with the purpose of the funds unions collect. The answer is to support their membership not political candidates.
The authority of unions in this country as provided in federal laws need to be changed. Unions should not be able to require individuals who are hired at any company to join their union whether they want to or not. The National Right to Work Act as discussed in this article is a start to changing the authority of unions. I am not advocating that unions be abolished. Individuals should have the choice to join a union or not in organizations that have union agreements.