National "Right to Work" Law Would Be The Union Apocalypse
Updated On: Feb 02, 2017
There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s presidency will be bad for the average worker. But one law would be worse than any other, and now that law is being formally proposed.
The Washington Examiner reports that tomorrow, Republican Congressmen Steve King and Joe Wilson will introduce national “right to work” legislation. A quick primer: “Right to work” laws (or “free rider” laws, asunions see them) allow workers in unionized workplaces to get the benefits of a union contract without having to pay union dues. Currently, just over half of the states in the country—including the entire South—have statewide “right to work” laws, and union membership tends to be much lower in those states, because the ability of people to opt out of paying union dues just because they don’t feel like it makes it harder to maintain strong unions, and can be financially crippling. (A union might, for example, negotiate a contract covering 500 workers, only to see half of them take the benefits of the contract and then not pay anything to the union. It’s a tough way to survive.)
A national “right to work” law would be the Holy Grail of right wing anti-labor forces who have despised unions for decades. There is no law that would be more detrimental to union membership. You need only look at the state-by-state union membership numbers to see how bad it could get. It’s not going overboard to imagine national union numbers could fall by half in short order. Unions would still exist, but they would have to work immeasurably harder to maintain their financial stability and relationships with members. All legally enshrined stability would be gone. Such a law would make every workplace in America an uphill battle for organized labor. And since unionization is one of the only things that average workers today can do to improve their economic position, this would undoubtedly exacerbate economic inequality, increase the power of corporations over their employees, and make it harder for Americans to have any hope of a middle class lifestyle. So it will naturally be endorsed by Donald Trump, our “blue collar billionaire” prez who loves the common man!