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Author Topic: Right to work  (Read 2055 times)

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Online AndyZTopic starter

Right to work
« on: June 06, 2012, 02:35:33 PM »
The concept of what I believe is called a right to work state has been around for a while.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

Basically, if my understanding is correct (and please correct me if it's not), if the company where you work has a union, you're forced to pay dues to that union even if you don't want to be involved.

[Edit: Valerian has already given a better clarification of how "Right to work" works.]

My question: should you be forced to pay dues even if you have no interest in being part of a union, and why?

My current thoughts on the situation are that you shouldn't.  I get the idea that if you want to be in a union, you should be allowed, but that should go both ways.  Perspectives from both sides are encouraged.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 02:58:30 PM by AndyZ »

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Right to work
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2012, 02:50:34 PM »
If the refuser is also ready to negotiate her/his own salary, vacation days, medical benefits & sick leave, along with possibly rules for workplace safety, fine. Otherwise it's nothing but a dishonest union busting dodge.

Offline Valerian

Re: Right to work
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2012, 02:50:50 PM »
The concept of what I believe is called a right to work state has been around for a while.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

Basically, if my understanding is correct (and please correct me if it's not), if the company where you work has a union, you're forced to pay dues to that union even if you don't want to be involved.

My question: should you be forced to pay dues even if you have no interest in being part of a union, and why?

My current thoughts on the situation are that you shouldn't.  I get the idea that if you want to be in a union, you should be allowed, but that should go both ways.  Perspectives from both sides are encouraged.
No, that isn't how it works.

The name is somewhat deliberately confusing, though.  Right to work laws allow workers to skip paying any union dues, but still reap the benefits of any union-negotiated contracts.

One side says that this is only fair because it avoids workers being forced into joining unions.  The other says that it weakens the unions by letting those who contribute nothing get a free ride.  After all, why pay the dues when you can share in the benefits no matter what?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 02:55:46 PM by Valerian »

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 03:01:10 PM »
Clarification appreciated, Valerian.

So, this gives me a thought: would it be possible to have two groups, one of which accepts the employer's usual offer, and the other is part of a union which only involves the people who voluntarily become part of a union?

Offline Sure

Re: Right to work
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 03:09:12 PM »
A union is a collective action group. It loses the crux of its power if it can't perform collective actions, to that end it needs to force all workers into its ranks (or marginalize those outside its ranks) to retain their bargaining ability. That is what this is about, really: unions wanting to retain their power. Regardless, Right to Work would greatly reduce the power of unions, because it takes away their ability to force all workers into membership and thus obligate them to such collective actions. After all, if half the workers strike then the company is not nearly as hurt as if all of them strike, and so on.

The trade off, as mentioned here, is that the union, in theory, should be providing benefits to its members worth more than that sacrifice of dues and being forced to march to the union's fife. There is also the argument, as stated twice, that unions benefit the worker regardless of membership and thus non-union members become 'free riders', people who benefit without putting in the same sacrifices as others. Of course, one counter-argument is that unions are not the sole force for employers giving employees benefits yet under such a system get full credit.

Honestly, I suppose, it comes down for me as to whether I see unions as a force for good, and whether I see it as limiting individual freedom. There is additionally the consideration that, if I see right to work as the proper remedy to such problems. The sticking point for me, really, is that unions are politically active entities (so relating to the second issue). For example, unions donated something like nineteen million dollars to the Democratic candidate in Wisconsin. So, in a sense, it is forcing someone to support a political party, and that is... problematic. I don't think right to work would be the best way to resolve that issue, though it certainly would be one way.

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 03:12:04 PM »
Do you know of an ideal method, Sure?  People are welcome to give thoughts on what would be the best way to handle these issues.

Offline Valerian

Re: Right to work
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2012, 03:26:13 PM »
Clarification appreciated, Valerian.

So, this gives me a thought: would it be possible to have two groups, one of which accepts the employer's usual offer, and the other is part of a union which only involves the people who voluntarily become part of a union?

So... two different groups of people, working in the same place, doing jobs that are probably either exactly the same or very similar, with one group getting paid at one rate and the other group getting paid at another (presumably higher) rate under a union-negotiated contract?  With the non-union people getting the benefits of the union-negotiated work safety regulations and working conditions, for example, still without contributing?

It's possible, I suppose, but not likely.

For example, unions donated something like nineteen million dollars to the Democratic candidate in Wisconsin. So, in a sense, it is forcing someone to support a political party, and that is... problematic.
If you mean Tom Barrett, he only had about $4 million in donations in total, so I'm not sure where you're getting that number from.

Offline Sure

Re: Right to work
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2012, 04:04:46 PM »
If you mean Tom Barrett, he only had about $4 million in donations in total, so I'm not sure where you're getting that number from.

My apologies, it was actually $18 million, and it wasn't donated to Barrett but just spent on the election. I think I can safely assert this doesn't damage my point about mandatory support of a union which is a political entity, though. Also, Barrett's campaign doesn't represent the sum of total spending on the Democratic side. To put it another way, about 64 million was spent, of which 34 million is accounted for by Walker and Barrett's campaigns. Link for that.

Do you know of an ideal method, Sure?  People are welcome to give thoughts on what would be the best way to handle these issues.

I don't, not really. Restricting their ability to participate in politics is problematic precisely because the government legislates about unions and putting such restrictions only on unions would prejudice the process in favor of the employers. The employers participating don't have the same problem of forced political participation, however, but the imbalance does crucially weaken unions. If I supported that as an end in of itself, supporting Right to Work would be similarly effective both in assuaging my moral concerns and hurting unions. But since I'm dealing specifically with the issue of forced political support, that would be a problematic side effect.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Right to work
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2012, 05:49:55 PM »
Corporate shills like to go after 'politicized' unions because they're the only major organizations that fund left-wing causes in this nation. Get rid of those, and the only major organizations funding elections in the country are corporations.

Naturally, you never see one single word from these people about reigning in a corporation's ability to fund elections.

And they're pretty shy about citing their sources, too. The "$18 million" link gives no source. It's just a blogger making a random claim.

A sourced breakdown appears here. Politico has their own breakdown of outside-only spending.

30.5 million raised by Walker directly
16.3 million from pro-Walker 1.91 groups

5.7 million from other 1.91 groups
4 million raised by Barret

63.5-16-30.5-4 = 13 million left, for the four senate races and primaries.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 05:53:47 PM by Vekseid »

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2012, 08:29:59 PM »
I think that we can agree that corporations are to Republicans what unions are to Democrats.

Using this logic, it seems simple enough that if you don't like a corporation, you can boycott them.  If you don't like a union, what are your recourses?  Is your only decision to quit your job, or to continue to pay dues without being in the union?

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Right to work
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2012, 08:36:21 PM »
I think that we can agree that corporations are to Republicans what unions are to Democrats.

Using this logic, it seems simple enough that if you don't like a corporation, you can boycott them.  If you don't like a union, what are your recourses?  Is your only decision to quit your job, or to continue to pay dues without being in the union?


I find that ironic..considering once upon a time.. Organized Labor was a strong hold for the GOP. There relationships shift glacially and alternate between the parties.

And I think the corps are willing pay off/buy anyone who will listen to their lobbyists.

I will agree though that the corps have a stronger hold on the GOP than the Democrats though.

I worked in a non-union shop, the other shop went union, and we got along well. (It was in Tx, and we're in FL). Things for the non-union shop changed quickly after Lockheed took control. They rotated the shop leaders out (with a 'by the way we hired a guy to be shop lead, he'll be here next week), killed bonuses and tried to enforce mandatory corporate measures for the out of country housing. (IE.. they would get all the hotel bennies), killed the long term stay bonus (when you spend a 1/3rd to 1/2 of a year overseas in places like Central America, you come to appreciate the additional compensations, in ADDITION to doubling overseas deployments)

A LOT of the things that organized labor set up to cover are covered by folks like the Department of Labor and OSHA.. BUT even those are being scaled back. But all you have to do is look at some of the actions by politicians to see what can happen when you don't have a group representing labor.

It's a hard balance.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 08:38:34 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2012, 08:43:19 PM »

I find that ironic..considering once upon a time.. Organized Labor was a strong hold for the GOP. There relationships shift glacially and alternate between the parties.

And I think the corps are willing pay off/buy anyone who will listen to their lobbyists.

I will agree though that the corps have a stronger hold on the GOP than the Democrats though.

I worked in a non-union shop, the other shop went union, and we got along well. (It was in Tx, and we're in FL). Things for the non-union shop changed quickly after Lockheed took control. They rotated the shop leaders out (with a 'by the way we hired a guy to be shop lead, he'll be here next week), killed bonuses and tried to enforce mandatory corporate measures for the out of country housing. (IE.. they would get all the hotel bennies), killed the long term stay bonus (when you spend a 1/3rd to 1/2 of a year overseas in places like Central America, you come to appreciate the additional compensations, in ADDITION to doubling overseas deployments)

It's a simple enough shift to understand.  I think it was in 1959 that the first public sector union came about, which FDR was vehemently against.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/18/the-first-blow-against-public-employees/fdr-warned-us-about-public-sector-unions

Granted, my first statement was a generality.  There are certainly corporations on both the left and the right, and probably some unions on both the left and right as well.  However, nobody wants to fight against their own side, as usual.

Anyone else have anything to add about my hypothetical on having both unionized and non-unionized workers?

Offline Trieste

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Re: Right to work
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2012, 08:52:36 PM »
I hate 'right to work'. I hate it with a passion, even though I'm pretty ambivalent about unions. Here's why: there are certain positions that really benefit from union protection. I would go as far as to say they need an invested union. I have worked in one of these jobs (as a telephone operator for Bellsouth). When you work in a job where you are easily trained and easily replaced, there needs to be some protection in place for the workers. At my aforementioned job, I could be:

- Fired without notice (obviously) or cause.
- Have my hours cut to nothing without notice or compensation - or unemployment, in that particular state, although some states have protections against this.
- Have my hours increased to six days a week, every week, for an indefinite amount of time. This may not seem like a big deal, but have you ever worked twelve days in a row for roughly 7 solid hours (8 hours less lunch and breaks) taking call after call after call after call back to back to back to back (or doing any repetitive task, really), had one day off to relax, and then had to go back onto it? For months on end? It sucks. It sucks a lot.
- Have my shifts moved around so that I worked until midnight and then had to come in at 8AM the next morning. Some of the workers complained that this was not actually 8 hours between shifts due to the requirement to be at work at least 10 minutes early and not be able to just hang up on someone that called at 11:59PM and wanted to chat. The company responded by lowering the minimum time between scheduled shifts. I believe they had to move it back because of legalities, but the point is that their first reaction was to fuck their workers.

All of this could have been combated by a strong union and solidarity among the workers. All of this could have been helped by collective bargaining and joint negotiation. Life didn't just suck for some of us, it sucked for all of us. I could go on and on about how much it sucked to work in that job, but instead, I will stop at that and simply say once more: I hate 'right to work', and I think it's bullshit.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Right to work
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2012, 08:54:32 PM »
It's a simple enough shift to understand.  I think it was in 1959 that the first public sector union came about, which FDR was vehemently against.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/18/the-first-blow-against-public-employees/fdr-warned-us-about-public-sector-unions

Granted, my first statement was a generality.  There are certainly corporations on both the left and the right, and probably some unions on both the left and right as well.  However, nobody wants to fight against their own side, as usual.

Anyone else have anything to add about my hypothetical on having both unionized and non-unionized workers?

Having never worked in a closed shop environment I don't know enough about the differences. I confess that there would be some resentment to the non-union folks 'leeching' off of the union actions but the way I see it is that the union hasn't proven themselves to non-members if they don't join.

I worked with guys who were in union jobs before they joined the military. Most of them were mellow about non-union folks in their shops but you always have one or two guys who called them 'scabs' and 'leeches'. From what I could tell the union guys, at least the big unions, got benefits from their union membership fees as well. So it balanced out. (That was one of the reasons the Florida site didn't go union, you had 20 retired navy chiefs who didn't need the union perks to help their navy retirement package and base pay. The guys at the Texas shop were more junior military guys who didn't have that to fall back to work on.)

-A side note.. if my site HAD been a union shop.. I wouldn't have been canned for a mistake in communication.

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2012, 09:06:20 PM »
I keep typing this, and it feels like I can't get the sympathetic tone right.  Please understand this as an honest question and not being mean or anything.

If your job was that terrible, and everyone knew it, why wouldn't you be able to form a union?  Does Right to Work block that entirely?

See, this is what gets me.  Why are there only two options, where either you have to form a union and everyone has to be in it, or you apparently can't?  Why are we caught between these extremes?

Barely pertinent ranting
This is what I think so much of the issue with politics is nowadays.  If a dog bites someone, we either have to live with Mr. Nibbles and love him no matter how much we bleed, or we have to shoot the dog.  There are so many other options, and it feels silly that our society wants to focus upon either one or the other, and just ignore the needs of the minority.

Having never worked in a closed shop environment I don't know enough about the differences. I confess that there would be some resentment to the non-union folks 'leeching' off of the union actions but the way I see it is that the union hasn't proven themselves to non-members if they don't join.

I worked with guys who were in union jobs before they joined the military. Most of them were mellow about non-union folks in their shops but you always have one or two guys who called them 'scabs' and 'leeches'. From what I could tell the union guys, at least the big unions, got benefits from their union membership fees as well. So it balanced out. (That was one of the reasons the Florida site didn't go union, you had 20 retired navy chiefs who didn't need the union perks to help their navy retirement package and base pay. The guys at the Texas shop were more junior military guys who didn't have that to fall back to work on.)

-A side note.. if my site HAD been a union shop.. I wouldn't have been canned for a mistake in communication.

Isn't it sad that name-calling has become a hallmark of our society?  Glad that they were the minority, though.

I feel as though there has to be some way to handle things so that if 60% of everyone wants something, the 40% can be left be.

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Re: Right to work
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2012, 09:53:34 PM »
I should probably have made clear that we had a union. It was a right to work state which meant you got union benefits but had no need to pay dues. You didn't even have to be actively involved in any way. So we had a union that was weak, underfunded, understaffed, and had no teeth. A union like that cannot protect workers who, like us, really did need the protection.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Right to work
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2012, 10:22:26 PM »
The last company I worked for (oh how nice it is to say that now!) needed a union for the exact reasons Trieste listed. However, they made it quite clear that if the word 'union' was even uttered they'd close the doors to the center and move the business elsewhere. They didn't care that it would put quite a large number of people out of jobs. A lot of companies are like that.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Right to work
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2012, 10:23:39 PM »
*cough*McD's*cough*

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2012, 11:50:29 PM »
The only real method I can think of is to make it easier to start small businesses, though I'd love to hear any other suggestions.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Right to work
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2012, 04:42:23 AM »
I think that we can agree that corporations are to Republicans what unions are to Democrats.

No. It's that unions are the largest liberal financiers of elections. People specifically go after unions for this reason, and their motives are highly suspect.

Quote
Using this logic, it seems simple enough that if you don't like a corporation, you can boycott them.  If you don't like a union, what are your recourses?  Is your only decision to quit your job, or to continue to pay dues without being in the union?

I find this amusing. Conservatives speak until they are red in the face about standing on your own, or the ability to find a job in any environment. I've dealt with shitty unions before. It's not like moving to another job, or starting your own business, is a completely alien experience.

How do I boycott federally funded corporations like Fox News, Koch Industries, KBR, Halibourton, BP, Rush Limbaugh? My tax money goes to these people. The only way out of this is leaving the country, but conservatives are pretty silent when it comes to the corporate welfare gem.

Even ignoring that, how do I know, when I buy any given product, which corporations are behind it, without a metric fuckton of research? The solution here isn't boycotting. A blacklist is too narrow. What's probably going to be needed is a more whitelist-friendly situation.

The only real method I can think of is to make it easier to start small businesses, though I'd love to hear any other suggestions.

Well that's easy

1) Provide universal healthcare. This is the number one reason why Republicans in power are opposed to universal care in this country - because it would lead to an increase in entrepreneurship, as people would, in fact, save up a bit of cash, leave their jobs and strike out on their own. My first business failed for many compound reasons - but if it wasn't for my health, there would be no donation bar on Elliquiy.

2) Remove sales taxes. This is especially crippling on people who start businesses, especially in service industries. It directly impedes cash flow at the lowest brackets of society, where money moves fastest, and people like me get stuck paying sales tax twice, because we have to charge it on the value of our services, and again when we pay for the goods we need to live.

...actually, as a general case, that's about it. There are situations where individual industries have set up various protectionist rackets around themselves, but those are individual cases and should be addressed as needed. Germany also gives ~$30k to start a business in a recession, which is good, but I don't think it's necessary. Still, compare German and US unemployment, and consider who fudges the figures more.


Offline Caela

Re: Right to work
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2012, 10:57:46 AM »
I'd like to see both the corporations and the unions out of politics.

I also hate the fact that I have no choice but to be in a union. Personally, if I was given an option, I probably would opt in to being in the union at my hospital, what I despise though is that it's not a choice. If you want to work, you will be in the union or you will lose your job. I don't enjoy being blackmailed by anybody.

An ideal situation would be one where unions weren't needed at all, where companies treated their employees with respect and dignity and employees did the same. Unfortunately that's not going to happen so something has to be in place to protect employees from getting totally fucked. Right now that's unions...hopefully someday we'll find something better.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Right to work
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2012, 12:18:45 PM »
My general opinion regarding unions is that they can be a necessary evil in an employer-scarce market, or a market where employers are colluding. I feel the proper solution there is to instead make smaller organizations much more viable than larger ones. In a 'perfect' labor market, and sufficient regulations ensuring that people are properly informed, there should be no reason for unions. If someone develops a monopoly on labor supply, unions are pretty much mandatory.

Online AndyZTopic starter

Re: Right to work
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2012, 12:42:55 PM »
Vekseid, I'm going to start up a separate thread regarding encouraging small business.  Do I have permission to quote you from other threads, or would you rather I just said things which are similar?

Caela, thank you for joining the thread.  Much of what I have to say on this is hypothetical, but it's great to have someone from both sides.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Right to work
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2012, 12:46:17 PM »
Go ahead and quote. : )

Offline Meri

Re: Right to work
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2012, 09:43:43 PM »
Unions are necessary to keep some companies from exploiting their workers. The problem is, some of today's unions, such as the Teamsters, have so much power, knowing they could shut the country down, that they are full of themselves.

I work with drivers who are Teamsters. They have always supported their union and some years back went on strike. These guys are good people, but they already make excessive amounts of money. Some of them have PhDs, but drive because it pays better.

There has been a turning of the tides in the last few years where I work. The monthly dues are quite high, and several of our drivers who felt they had legitimate grievances were not well-represented by the union. Some of them could not even get the union to look into their grievance. I know it's not because their grievances had no merit, because I've seen some really ridiculous ones get taken. Because of this growing disillusionment with the union, (what am I paying those big dues for when I get nothing for it?) several of our drivers have dropped out. It is the most tenable way to let the union know they are not doing their job. Some of them rejoined, due to pressure from other drivers. I don't think anyone should be forced to join or stay with a union who doesn't fairly represent them.

So, like many things in life, unions come with good and bad. Some companies treat their people well (yes they do) and some don't. So we need unions. What we don't need is a union who thinks it is their job to tell a company how to run their business and who never get enough concessions to satisfy them. Our company lost a lot of business during the strike and now our competitors have it.  The result?  Loss of business = loss of jobs. Go Teamsters!