Hands on Wisconsin: Contagious anti-labor laws

2012-12-13T05:00:00Z 2012-12-13T09:21:00Z Hands on Wisconsin: Contagious anti-labor lawsPHIL HANDS | Wisconsin State Journal | phands@madison.com madison.com

It's clear that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was emboldened to pass a right-to-work bill after watching Scott Walker restrict collective bargaining powers and survive a recall in Wisconsin. 

What's not clear is the affect that turning a labor strong-hold like Michigan into a right-to-work state will have on the greater labor movement. But it doesn't look good for unions. 

I've always been conflicted about right-to-work rules. On the one hand, I don't think that people who don't want to be part of a union should be forced to pay union dues. However, I don't believe for a second that the conservatives pushing these laws are concerned about workers' choices. They know that if fewer people pay dues, the union will be weaker. 

Unions are still required to represent all of the workers at a given shop whether they pay dues or not, so the union will secure benefits for workers who don't have any skin in the game. All the while the union has fewer resources to bargain for those benefits. 

A fairer solution would be to allow unions to drop employees who don't pay dues. This would force the workers who don't want to join the union to work under the guidelines set forth by their employers. 

Also, this would let people really see how effective their union is at securing benefits since they can compare their situations to their non-union colleagues. Some unions might provide their members with real value, others might fail. In a sense, it would create a "market" for labor representation which would differentiate between strong and weak unions and businesses that are friendly or unfriendly to their labor force. 

That seems like a reasonable solution to me. But nobody ever suggested that the people who make our laws are reasonable. 

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(4) Comments

  1. LuAnne F
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    LuAnne F - December 14, 2012 9:01 am
    I was happy to read that there are no current plans to push for so-called right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin.
  2. WinnerWinner
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    WinnerWinner - December 13, 2012 11:21 am
    Wiggl--The prosperity of the golden age of unionism had little to do with organized labor and much to do with the fact that nearly the entire civilized world had been bombed to hell throughout WWII, leaving us clearly as the world's leading economy. Want to know why we've fallen from grace? Look no further than the archaic union regulations that hamstring productivity and profitability.
  3. Jason Sm1th
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    Jason Sm1th - December 13, 2012 10:12 am
    Unions make it very hard for someone to work. No-one can be more productive than what union allows as their job description. Workers have to wait so much for some one else to finish up small task - which could have been done by anyone.
    Employers - business owners occur massive costs related to union worker. Ultimately they move to China and guess what - they make even more profits, so they win - but Workers loose in long term.
  4. wigglwagon
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    wigglwagon - December 13, 2012 9:33 am
    When nearly 40% of workers were represented by unions, America prospered. Now that business has broken the unions, only 6% of workers are represented by unions. Where is all that prosperity that comes from giving businesses a free hand to do as they choose?

    Prosperous workers make great customers to support businesses. Minimum wage workers can only support a minimal economy.

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