The Challenge To Union ‘Closed Shop’ Laws Moves Forward

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that a California case challenging union ‘closed shoplaws is moving forward. The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) has been trying to get the case challenging those laws to the Supreme Court. Currently they will be appealing the case to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ‘closed shop’ laws require anyone who is hired by a company where there is a union has to pay dues to that union whether they choose to join the union or not. The supposed rationale behind that is that the person hired benefits by the fact that the union has negotiated the current wage and benefits package of the company, and since the employee benefits from that negotiation, he should be required to pay union dues. In a ‘right to work’ state, that practice is prohibited.

The article reports:

CIR’s case argues that unions should not be able to get “security clauses” in the contracts they negotiate management. These clauses, also called “closed shop” rules, say that anyone hired must either join the union or at least pay dues to one. The rationale is that the clauses prevent economic “free riders” since all workers theoretically benefit from union collective bargaining.

Such clauses have long been a standard feature of union contracts, though 24 states have “right to work” laws that prohibit the practice.

CIR’s case argues that the practice should be prohibited even in those states without right to work laws because they violate the individual rights of workers. “These fees do nothing but cause ongoing and irreparable injury to their First Amendment rights,” Pell (CIR  President Terry Pell) said.

If this case goes to the Supreme Court and the right of the individual not to pay union dues if he chooses, all states will become ‘right to work’ states. Obviously, the unions are trying to prevent that from happening.

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The Cost Of Bullying

On Friday the Washington Free Beacon posted an article about Jeff Richmond of Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. Mr. Richmond was a truck driver who began working for Penn Line Service, a trucking and construction company, in July 2012.

The article reports:

He never joined LIUNA, which represents other employees at the company, but that did not stop the union from deducting dues from his paycheck. The situation came to a head in October when Richmond refused to make “voluntary” contributions to three PACs associated with the union. He was fired from his job shortly afterward.

…Richmond challenged the forced dues program enacted by the union and the company before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after his firing with the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The NLRB issued a formal complaint against Penn Line Service and LIUNA but did not have a chance to rule on the matter before the settlement.

Richmond was not the only Penn Line Service employee to benefit from the settlement. The company and union agreed to reimburse an unnamed employee $600 for forced dues payments and political contributions he made in 2012.

Since the Supreme Court ruled on the Citizens United case, there has been a lot of talk about the amount of money in politics and particularly donations made by corporations. However, if we are going to complain about corporate donations, we need also to look at union donations unwillingly made by union members who do not necessarily support the candidates or causes the money is given to. At least in a corporation, the stockholders will hold the corporation accountable if the Chairman of the Board makes a donation to a cause the other Board members do not support.

The article concludes:

Mix (Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee) said the union’s actions are not surprising given the influence of organized labor in West Virginia. He urged lawmakers to change the pro-union atmosphere in the state to avoid future issues with compulsory union dues.

“West Virginia needs to pass a Right-to-Work law making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary,” Mix said.

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The Loss Of Civility In The Public Debate

Today’s Daily Caller posted a story yesterday about the attack on Fox News contributor Steven Crowder yesterday in Michigan. Pro-union thugs came out in force to protest the singing of a right-to-work law in the state. The pro-union protesters were attempting to tear down a tent put up by Americans for Prosperity when the scuffle began.

The regular media outlets have chosen to ignore this story. The article reports:

Media Matters isn’t talking about Steven Crowder.

The liberal media watchdog organization has gone deafeningly silent in the wake of Tuesday’s union violence in Lansing, Michigan. That’s where protesters opposed to the state’s now-passed “right to work” law destroyed a tea party group’s occupied tent and punched Fox News contributor Steven Crowder in the face.

Those two incidents — both captured in crystal-clear video — have received wall-to-wall coverage on the Fox News Channel since they occurred. Meanwhile, an analysis by the conservative Media Research Center released Wednesday showed that Tuesday’s ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all ignored the attacks, only referring to the protests as “boisterous.”

Why should this be covered in the media? Because Americans need to know what is going on around them. Violence in never an acceptable form of protest–regardless of the cause.
According to Fox News, before the vote on right-to-work was taken, state Democratic Rep. Douglas Geiss, speaking on the House floor on Tuesday, warned,

“There will be blood, there will be repercussions.” This is not the route to a constructive debate of the issue.

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The Battle For Union Reform Moves To Virginia

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article today about the next battle in reforming unions. In Virginia, the Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee has passed a bill to guarantee voter privacy in union elections. This is a preemptive strike in case the Obama Administration passes card check–a union election procedure that takes away the secret ballot.

The article reports:

Held over from the 2012 General Assembly session, the bill is expected to come to the Senate floor in the session that opens Jan. 9.

“This amendment is essential if we are going to preserve voter integrity and privacy,” said Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), who introduced the measure. “No citizen should be forced to reveal how they voted in any election, be it a federal, state, local or a union election.”

Unions have a place in the American workforce. Ideally they protect the rights of the individual worker and provide a way for grievances to be resolved. However, unions have become a cash cow for the Democrat party, and an excuse for their leaders to live in luxury at the expense of the average worker. Union leaders are no better than the corporate fat cats they condemn. It is time for the unions to remember their original purpose–protecting workers–and begin to focus on that.

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Numbers Can Be So Inconvenient

Yesterday Investors.com posted the chart below:

President Obama has stated,

“These so-called right to work laws, they don’t have anything to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money,”

That is simply not true. The numbers on earnings in right-to-work states simply don’t agree with what the President and labor leaders are saying.

The article reports:

According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, right-to-work states (excluding Indiana, which passed a RTW law in early 2012) “were responsible for 72% of all net household job growth across the U.S. from June 2009 through September 2012.”

…The president who fought Boeing’s expansion in RTW South Carolina knows it’s all about his keeping union dues flowing into Democratic coffers and maintaining the plush lifestyles of the union leaders who support him.

The article concludes:

If unions satisfied workers, one would expect their membership to at least remain constant. But between 2000 and 2010, union membership declined by 9.5% in non-RTW states and 9.2% in RTW states. The only growth was in government unions.

Michigan‘s right-to-work law is a positive blow for worker freedom and economic growth and an example, as in Wisconsin and Indiana, of how conservatives can win and are winning in states led by GOP governors.

At its core, this is about campaign money. When the Supreme Court ruled in the  Citizens United case that corporations could make campaign donations, the unions had a problem–someone else was throwing tons of money into political campaigns. When the Democrats were not successful in changing that ruling, they desperately needed to hang on to union money. The ruling in Michigan is a direct threat to the Democrat party’s major source of funds–union money. Workers will no longer be forced to join a union or contribute dues to a union they are not a member of. That is a step forward for workers.

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