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Right to Work is Unsafe, Unfair and Unnecessary.

So-Called “Right to Work”: A Centerpiece of the ALEC Corporate Agenda

Corporate America’s biggest goal is to keep their labor costs as small as possible and to prevent workers from organizing unions to advocate for employee rights. To achieve this corporate end, ALEC has provided model legislation to dramatically reduce workers’ rights and gut labor unions.

A key centerpiece of these efforts is the so-called “Right to Work” movement. ALEC provides model legislation on so-called “Right to Work” in order to forward their corporate, anti-worker agenda. ALEC model legislation on “Right to Work” is as follows [Center for Media and Democracy]:

Section 4. {Freedom of choice guaranteed, discrimination prohibited.} No person shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment:

(A) to resign or refrain from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization;

(B) to become or remain a member of labor organization;

(C) to pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind of amount to a labor organization;

(D) to pay to any charity or other third party, in lieu of such payments, any amount equivalent to or a pro-rata portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges regularly required of members of a labor organization; or

(E) to be recommended, approved, referred or cleared by or through a labor organization.

So-Called “Right to Work” In Minnesota

In Minnesota, the proposed constitutional amendment language authored by Sen. Dave Thompson (SF 1705) is:

An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, a section shall be added to article I, to read:

Sec. 18. No person shall be required as a condition of obtaining or continuing public sector or private sector employment to: (1) resign or refrain from membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization; (2) become or remain a member of a labor organization; (3) pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount, or provide anything else of value, to a labor organization; or (4) pay to any charity or other third party an amount equivalent to, or a portion of, dues, fees, assessments, or other charges required of members of a labor organization. An agreement, contract, understanding, or practice between a labor organization and an employer that takes force or is extended or renewed after adoption of this section and that violates this section is unlawful and unenforceable.

The similarities in language between the Minnesota bill and ALEC’s model legislation are very troubling; however, even more troubling is the role that Comcast Vice President of Government Relations, John Gibbs, plays in ALEC. Comcast, a notorious union-busting company (see: Comcast’s anti-union efforts in “This is Comcast: Silencing Our Voice at Work“), has worked diligently and sometimes outside legal parameters to prevent its workforce from unionzing. Gibbs is the Minnesota state corporate chair of ALEC, and so-called “Right to Work” would clearly further his own corporation’s interests.

Right to Work represents nothing more than an unsafe, unfair and unnecessary national corporate takeover. In Minnesota, this constitutional amendment puts the safety of our families at risk. It will make it more difficult for nurses to bargain for safe staffing levels, for construction workers to ensure safe worksites and for emergency responders like police and firefighters, t to negotiate for things that keep us all safe – like faster response times and life-saving emergency equipment.

We don’t need this risky amendment. Independent experts say it could lead to thousands of layoffs. Our state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, manufacturing is now one of the strongest sectors of our economy, and Forbes magazine recently rated Minnesota as having the third-best quality of life in the country.

In contrast, since Oklahoma has passed Right to Work, the state has lost over one-third of its manufacturing jobs. Over 20% of people in Texas and Florida have no health insurance compared to 8% in Minnesota. And the average weekly benefit for those hurt on the job is 22% less in so-called “Right to Work” states compared to Minnesota.

Under federal law, unions are required to represent all workers and bargain a contract that benefits all workers. Because of that, unions are allowed to charge all workers fair share dues to cover the costs of representation and bargaining. This proposed amendment would eliminate unions’ ability to collect fair share dues, resulting in only some workers paying dues, but all workers receiving the benefits. That’s unfair.

While worker productivity has skyrocketed in the past few decades, wages have stagnated. At the same time, studies show that CEO pay has grown 243 times higher than what the average worker makes. It’s the American worker who makes companies profitable, and they should benefit too. We need to make our economy work for everyone, not just members of the one percent like corporate CEOs.

To read more about the unsafe, unfair and unnecessary Right to Work bill and its connections with ALEC, read our more comprehensive report: Right-to-Work-ALEC-Report.pdf


Photo credit: Flickr

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