The ruse known as right-to-work is likely to be a very hot topic in the months ahead. Already in places like Kentucky, lawmakers are moving ahead with efforts to pass legislation that would crack down on the collective bargaining rights of workers.
But thankful, there are still some victories to be won. And one of them took place during the last week of 2016 in Wisconsin, where a federal judge struck down a provision in the state law that made it harder for private sector unions to collect dues. It involved the check offs workers sign to let employers automatically deduct union dues from their paychecks.
One of the reasons big business is so bullish on so-called RTW is because it starves unions of the resources it needs to represent its members on the job. The check off provision contained in the Wisconsin law would have let workers revoke such deductions with 30 days notice.
The judge in the case, however, ruled that such a change is contrary to federal labor law, which states such agreements can last a full year. That said, the rest of the Wisconsin law, which prohibits mandatory union dues at private sector businesses, remains in place.
That’s a shame, because history shows us RTW is not a good for workers. An Economic Policy Institute document notes that wages are 3.1 percent lower in states that impede union rights than they are in free bargaining ones. That’s after taking cost of living, demographics and labor market characteristics into account. The result is that union and non-union workers alike in RTW states make $1,558 less each year.
These efforts needs to be called out for what they are — a corporate-fueled attack on everyday people who are just trying to earn a living to support their families. It’s part of a national effort being pushed by the same big companies and business executives who for years have boosted their profits by sending American jobs overseas.
Workers have had enough!