Local 13-447

Right To Work "Questions & Answers"

Our communities benefit from an improved tax base and a stronger local economy. And right now we need this type of stability more than ever. Despite this reality, too many CEOs and their allies want nothing, including unions to interfere with their pursuit of profit at all costs. They continually want more from workers and the middle class, no matter how outrageous the concentration of wealth has become, how many communities are destroyed by rampant outsourcing, or how much their irresponsible behavior derails our economy. Now they want to take away our "VOICE"at work by expanding "right to work laws".

Get the FACTS and Spread the Word...

What is a right to work law?
This misleadingly-named law prohibits us from negotiating a union security clause, which simply says that everyone who benefits from a union contract should have to pay their fair share of the costs of obtaining and protecting those benefits. This clause is a negotiated item just like any other contract provision. There is no mandate that an employer has to agree to this language.

Do unions have to represent those who don’t pay their fair share?
Yes. This is why a more appropriate name for this type of law is the "Right to Freeload. Unions have to negotiate for everyone, whether they pay their fair share or not. We must enforce the contract and process grievances for everyone, including "PAYING" for arbitration costs. If we don’t, we’re liable for serious financial penalties. We would be hard pressed to come up with an example of any other type of organization that would provide all the benefits of membership to people who didn’t pay for them.

Are people in states without these laws forced to join a union?
Collective bargaining agreements cannot require anyone to join a union. Unions and employers can only negotiate contract provisions that require non-members to pay their fair share of the union’s cost to represent them.

What is the real purpose of right to work?
The real purpose of the latest round of right to work attacks on the private sector is really no different than the attack on public sector workers that began in Wisconsin last year. The real purpose is to attempt to silence the collective voice of workers in the election process and weaken our strength in bargaining. The loss of members would also cripple our union’s funds used to negotiate and provide representation, pursue health and safety issues, fight against unfair trade, provide education for local union leaders and other key issues crucial to our members and their families.

How many states have right to work laws?
Most of the 22 states that have these laws enacted them during the late 1940’s and 1950’s. These are some of the least dense union states today. Only a handful of states have added these laws in the last five decades, with Oklahoma being the most recent in 2001.

Did Oklahoma benefit?
When proposing right to work, an Oklahoma State Representative said that the legislation “will lay the foundation for Oklahoma’s golden age." They further promised that it would “bring prosperity and promise” to Oklahomans. We are hearing the same promises today. The reality is that the number of companies coming into the state fell by a third after the law was enacted. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce reports that, in the decade preceding RTW, Oklahoma saw an average of 48 new firms per year, creating a total of nearly 6,500 new jobs each year during the 1990’s. The Economic Policy Institute concluded that "right to work laws have not succeeded in boosting employment growth in the states that have adopted them,” and the case in Oklahoma “is particularly discouraging regarding the law’s ability to spur job growth. Since the law passed in 2001, manufacturing employment and relocations into the state reversed their climb and began to fall, precisely the opposite of what right to work advocates promised.” The idea that businesses will relocate solely based on right to work laws simply doesn’t hold true. A 2009 survey in Area Development magazine asked manufacturers to rank the factors that most influenced their decisions about where to locate. Right to work didn’t even make the top ten, and fell far behind factors such as highway accessibility, available land, etc.

What else could be hurt with right to work laws?
Wages – In a competitive labor market, stronger wages and benefits for union members create pressure on employers to improve compensation for non-union workers as well. When right to work laws undermine that upward pull on all wages and benefits, we see reduced compensation for non-union workers. The average worker in states with right to work laws makes $5,538 a year less than workers in other states.6

Workplace Safety and Health – The rate of workplace deaths is 52.9 percent higher in states with right to work laws. Another recent study supports this idea and suggests that states that are working to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities should “consider encouraging trade union growth and repealing right-to-work laws” as a one percent increase in union density is associated with a 0.22 percent decline in the ratio of occupational fatalities.
 

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