National Right-to-Work Bill Offered in Congress
February 11, 2013
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill on Feb. 5 that would impose so called right-to-work laws nationally.
Paul’s bill would make it illegal for unions and companies to sign contracts requiring that everyone represented by a union help pay the costs of negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements.
In support of the bill, Paul said:
Right-to-work laws ensure that all Americans are given the choice to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union as a condition for employment.
No one is forced to become a member of a union, and anyone can choose not to pay the full freight of union representation. Paul’s bill, like the right-to-work legislation already on the books in 23 states, goes much further. The law lets people avoid paying for even the direct costs of union representation in collective bargaining, forcing fellow workers to pick up the tab.
Said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill:
Supporters of right-to-work laws talk about freedom, but these laws are direct assaults on the constitutional right to organize and collectively bargain. They weaken the economy and they attempt to silence working people. The IBEW will oppose these bills anywhere and everywhere they appear.
The effect of these laws has been catastrophic for the American middle-class. Workers in right-to-work states make on average about $1,500 a year less than those in other states, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Workplace deaths and injuries are higher, as are poverty and infant mortality. Workers compensation awardsand health care coverage are lower.
Most recently, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint introduced a similar bill in 2011. It failed to gain traction and died in committee.
While Paul’s bill has attracted 10 co-sponsors and the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it is expected that the bill will make little headway in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
For the moment anyway, it appears as if the effort to ensure workers a voice in their own financial futures will still be waged state by state.
Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user Gage Skidmore.