Wednesday, December 12

Right to work

There has been much brouhaha in the past several months about the "right to work" legislation, often perceived as attacks on unions.  Just recently Michigan, apparently a former bastion of unions, became a "right to work" state amid protests, lofty rhetoric, and threats.

This is controversial for a lot of reasons, and not just because a lot of folks are having their cheese moved.  This isn't a small move from some, but possibly even changing the type of their cheese.

I've said this before but will repeat it, I'm not a fan of unions.  I think that too often the threat of strike puts a stranglehold on the possibility of actual negotiations; however, I also think that far too many management structures claim to be transparent but are not so workers are rightly suspicious of motives and just how much truth they're really getting.  But I also think publicly-owned companies fail to give enough credence to the impact Wall Street and stockholders have on decisions being made.  I also think plain old greed and hubris have hands in this game, too.  So, in my opinion, it's not simply a matter of worker versus management.  Ever.

As stated in the Michigan article listed above:
As 1 of 24 states with right-to-work laws, Michigan will prohibit requiring nonunion employees to pay unions for negotiating contracts, representing them in grievances and other services. Supporters say the laws give workers freedom of association and promote job creation, while critics insist the real intent is to drain unions of funds need to bargain effectively.
Now I have to say this is cleverly stated.  One of the ideas behind this legislation is to give workers the right to choose to be a union member.  Those who are not union members, however, may get the benefits of the union negotiations.  By the same token, they may also bear the consequences of any negatives.  But if they are not a member of the union, there are certain rules they don't have to follow.  Some may see getting the advantages of union representation and negotiation as a sort of freeloading; others may not.  Those of us who have never had the so-called protection of unions struggle to understand the general fairness of unions when it is considered across all types of workers as opposed to the usual pitting of workers against management, typically portrayed as greedy and unconcerned about the plights of their workers.

There is always more to the story.  Always.

As reported here
Right-to-work laws forbid contracts between companies and unions that require all workers to pay the union for bargaining on their behalf. Although business groups and conservatives cast the issue in terms of workplace freedom, unions note that the laws allow workers to opt out of supporting the union although they reap the benefits of the collective bargaining. Since the laws tend to weaken unions generally, unions, as well as President Barack Obama, call the legislation "right to work for less."
But if you really want to know more about the genesis of the right to work movement, you need to read the Taft Hartley Act of 1947 and then go to the NLRB site to see the amendments made to that Act, and why.

Once you have done that, you will actually be better informed about the right to work legislation and make your own decisions about its validity and quality, and stop listening to the media and politicians for anything remotely akin to objective and accurate information.  And don't take my word for it either.

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