A Republican-controlled Congress has taken aim at workers’ rights in 2017, including the ability to collectively bargain. But now a group of lawmakers have said “Enough”!
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) are the lead sponsors of legislation introduced last week that would outlaw “right-to-work”(RTW) laws in the U.S. It is a fitting push back on efforts to curtail the ability of workers in this country to organize and stand united against their employers.
“The country is in the middle of renegotiating NAFTA, which was a bad idea for American workers,” Warren said. “If we want to protect workers and expect a level playing field in international trade deals, we need to start at home – and that means banning states from imposing restrictions that prevent workers from joining together to fight for their future.”
As it stands, 28 states have passed RTW is wrong policies, although the law has yet to take effect in Missouri and West Virginia due to public and judicial intervention, respectively, in those states. While supporters claim that the law promotes job growth, history shows otherwise. The policy is a ruse that only causes a race to the bottom for wages.
RTW states have a higher poverty rate than those in ones that support collective bargaining. In fact, nine of the 10 highest poverty states are RTW. That, in part, is attributable to lower salaries and benefits. Those with no rights at work make almost $1,500 a year less. They are also less likely to receive employer-based health insurance or pensions as well.
Taking away the rights of hardworking Americans to collectively bargain is not the answer. Working people want the freedom to join together and negotiate for a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. And the more money workers have to spend, the more products they buy, creating more jobs and better wages for all workers.
That’s why it makes sense for elected officials to push back on these lousy laws. They strip unions of the ability to collect dues from all workers who benefit from union-negotiated contracts. Unions are forced to use their time and money to provide benefits to free riders who won’t pay they fair share. At a time when Canada is fighting to have language barring RTW laws placed in an updated version of NAFTA, lawmakers must take a fresh look at these measures.
Big business says RTW is good for the American economy. But many of these same companies have offshored jobs and helped rig the rules, pushing U.S. wages down and placing the health and safety of workers at risk.
Don’t be fooled by their false promises, these corporations are just looking for more ways to line their pockets with profits.