Democratic Leaders Call for End to Right-to-Work

By Higgins, Sean | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, November 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Democratic Leaders Call for End to Right-to-Work


Higgins, Sean, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The Democratic leadership united Wednesday to end all state right-to-work laws, saying labor unions need to be protected from their impact.

The Democrats' agenda would strip the workers in 27 states of the right to refuse to join or otherwise financially support a union as a condition of employment.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, and other top party officials joined with top labor leaders Wednesday to announce their joint "A Better Deal" agenda to boost the union movement. A key plank in the agenda is "Ban state laws that undermine worker freedoms to join together and negotiate," which the agenda later identifies as right-to-work laws.

"These laws -- often misleadingly called 'right to work' laws -- do not give anyone the right to a job; they merely weaken unions by starving unions of the compensation they need to get their job done," the agenda states. "A Better Deal will end these special-interest laws and ensure that workers have the freedom, and resources, to build a future for themselves and their families."

Right-to-work laws specifically prohibit private-sector union-management contracts that require employers to fire a worker who refuses to join a union or pay it a regular fee. Such provisions are dubbed "security clauses" by unions and are a key source of revenue for them. Unions argue they are owed the fees to compensate for collective bargaining on behalf of the workers. In states where the practice is prohibited -- 27 have laws against it -- unions often struggle to keep members and their dues money. Democrats said the laws have accounted for 10 percent drops in union membership in the states where they were recently adopted.

It is not just the private sector, noted Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. He noted that the Supreme Court is taking up a case called Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that challenges the 1977 Abood v. …

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