Will “Right-to-Work” become Federal law?

by Michael Haberman on February 13, 2017 · 1 comment


States with right-to-work laws in blue.

I have written a number of times on the subject of “right-to-work”. Here and Here. To quote myself

The concept of “right-to-work” is that you cannot force an employee to have to belong to a union and pay union dues in order to keep his/her job. In a non-RtW state, after a probationary period, an employee must become a union member in order to stay employed. Their personal desires and wants and interests about the union are ignored in favor of the union being paid dues by one more person. RTW states allow employees to make that decision and some do and some don’t. But it certainly eats into the financial support for the union. Thus, they fight this legislation tooth and nail.”

History

The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 and that legislation allowed what was called “union shops.” This meant that an employee that held a job covered by the bargaining agreement was required to join the union. It even allowed “closed shops” that required the employer to hire only union members. In 1947 this law was amended by the Labor-Management Relations Act, which gave states the right to determine if they wanted to enact “right-to-work” legislation. Initially 22 states passed this legislation, but as of 2017 the count is now 28 states. Now there appears to be a possible national movement to make all states “right-to-work.”

National effort

President Trump made a major portion of his agenda to bring jobs back to the U.S. and promote policies that will make it easier to business in the U.S. According to Danielle Petaja of the firm Saul Ewing, LLP, representatives from Iowa (King-R) and South Carolina (Wilson-R) have introduced into the House a bill called the National Right to Work Act” (H.R. 785). This bill would remove the union security clause from the NLRA and essentially make all states “right-to-work” states.

Good chance to pass?

According to Petaja this legislation has the best chance in decades to pass. Citing growth in jobs in many “right-to-work” states the current administration is in favor of the legislation. Petaja says that the Senate will need 8 Democrats to join the Republicans in order to overcome a filibuster by the Democrats. She quotes White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer who said “The president believes in right to work. He wants to give workers and companies the flexibility to do what’s in the best interest for job creators.”

How big of an impact?

I am not really sure how big of an impact this legislation will have, after all private sector union membership is a paltry 6.4%. Government unions bolster the overall figure to an overall to 10.7%. Unions are not nearly the power they once were and just this year two states moved to enact “right-to-work” legislation.

I think it is a concept whose time has come. We will probably know by the end of this year.

Photo credit National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.


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