Wait, you say. If the majority of people in the majority of states voted for this thing and its called my right to work, how can it be a bad thing? Lets start by defining exactly what we are talking about because there is no question that many people are being manipulated by a carefully crafted messaging campaign that has been perfected by the people who are experts at knowing how to craft a manipulative message (we'll tell you about them in a minute). So-called right to work laws have been around for quite some time. The first state to institute these laws was Florida in 1943. The premise behind these laws is that people having to pay Union dues is some sort of violation of people's personal rights, but before you get caught up in the subjective element of that statement, lets examine some facts. Yes, its true that workplaces that are unionized require everyone hired in that workplace to pay Union dues as soon as they are hired. I can already hear the reactionary voices complaining that this in itself is a violation, but the reason this requirement was placed into existence is because every one of those employees benefits from the work the Union does on their behalf, regardless of whether they support the Union or not. So, although you probably know people who say "my Union doesn't do anything for me" these people are shortsighted and uninformed. They are no different than the people who pay taxes and say nothing is done to represent their taxes. They say this while driving down streets and highways that are cleared, cleaned, directed, and lighted from tax revenue. They say this while receiving their mail everyday from a Postal service that is funded by tax revenue. They say this while living in communities that are serviced everyday in every way by tax revenue. Well, the same is true of the Union. Again, we refer to Sekou Ture's axiom that "based solely on what comes out of our mouths, we are all equal." In other words, people can say whatever they want, but the reality is if you did a side by side comparison of the 28 states with "right to work" laws imposed to the 22 states where Unions collect dues from everyone who is hired in Unionized places of work, the workers in those 22 states have higher wages, better health care, and safer work conditions 100% of the time. Not 50%, not 75%, 100%. Why? Because so-called right to work laws have most recently been promoted by big money employers like the Walton family (owners of Wal Mart) and Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries. Besides the U.S. military, these two companies are the largest employers in the U.S. and Wal Mart is the largest in the world. These people are billionaires several times over and they got that way by perfecting the art of keeping wages down, down, down. That's why you have to subsidize Wal Mart, the largest corporation in the world because they pay 35% of their full time workers so little that these people are forced to collect food stamps to survive which you and I pay for. So, as a strategy for keeping wages down systemically, these greedy criminals took up the so-called right to work mantle and begin implementing it, based again, on some clever marketing techniques. They have created these ballot measures state by state so that you can have the option of receiving all of the benefits of belonging to a Union without having to pay Union dues. Their marketing line is that you can say the $80.00 a month in Union dues and spend it on something else you value while throwing in the zinger that you should definitely do this if you don't believe in that immigration reform, LGBTQ support, or anti-white supremacy, patriarchy work your Union is engaged in.
The tragedy of this is people, mostly European (White) working class people, are buying this garbage hook, line, and sinker. And, that's why 28 states have adopted it. Meanwhile, what the marketing isn't telling you is that the workers in those 28 states have lost on average $6,100.00 in annual wages, while doing the same work. What they aren't telling you is those workers have had to pay 13% more in health care for less coverage and that their work safety has decreased by 50%. They also leave out the piece that poverty in all of those 28 states has increased (as a result of all of these impacts mentioned here) by 13% on average in each of those states.
They also aren't explaining that the corporation's end game really isn't to put money in your pocket (by saving you Union dues), but to reduce the revenues of your Union so that they don't have the resources to fight the corporate efforts to place you into poverty. Look, I get it. People are cash starved and looking for every way to stretch their dollars, but eliminating your Union dues is a bassackwards way to do this. The reason why you are cash strapped in the first place is because wages have been stagnant for working people in this country since the 1970s while corporate profits continue to set historical records. Even still, if you look at what you pay to belong to a Union and compare that amount to what you have gained by having a Union negotiate on your behalf, I assure you that you will see that your monthly dues is the best investment you can make in your family's future.
The Koch Brothers and Wal Mart don't want you to look at your life with that type of vision and forward thinking. They only want you to look at today because if you do, you will completely miss the screw you job they are putting on you. And, this has absolutely nothing to do with how you feel about Unions, whether you had a bad Union in the past, or even how racist Unions have historically been (because they have been racist). This is true because despite these contradictions, we still are better off with them than without them. Besides, to argue that we should abandon Unions because they are racist or because we had a bad experience is dishonest on your part. The church is reaped in racism, yet many of you stay committed to it. You have daily bad experiences after a night getting drunk, yet very few of you never take a drink again. So, please stop it with that foolishness. In fact, every institution we have encountered under capitalism causes us trauma, yet you people arguing against Unions continue to regularly demand inclusion in the rest of this society that has never accepted us. Here, we have an institution - Unions - that we seriously need to demand inclusion in and you are ready to throw it out without even thinking seriously about it. All you are doing is being a mouthpiece for the people trying to place you in economic slavery and you are doing that without even having enough sense to be compensated at least.
This analysis also has nothing to do with whether you work for a Unionized work place or not. Even if you have never had a Union job and will never have one, so-called right to work will be terrible for you also. Why? Because lowering wages will have a ripple effect in every element of society. Have any of you noticed that good service is hard to come by these days? Do you ever wonder why? Could it be that most of these places, being non-Union, do not have to negotiate working conditions with their workers? Consequently, they under staff, overwork, underpay, and basically tell you just spend your money despite the poor experience. And none of this is the fault of the workers in that non Union work place. I recently had a personal experience that underscores this point. Working for a Union, I enjoy outstanding health care benefits. The Local I worked for in Oregon provided us comprehensive Kaiser coverage that included eye care. The Union I worked for also covered many of the Kaiser workers. The Eye care workers were not covered, but since many of their co-workers, were, they benefited in terms of how they were compensated, etc. The reason why is if Unionized workers drive up their wages, there is a systemic impact on non-Union workers receiving similar benefits. Obviously, if no one is Unionized and all wages are down, this phenomenon isn't happening. So, yet another example that supports my point, but because of this situation, I have grown accustomed to the fast and efficient service I'd received for eye care at Kaiser in Oregon. A service that was at a high level because of the degree in which those workers were taken care of, which as I mentioned is the direct result of their benefiting from their employer being what we call a Union shop. On Saturday, I went for an eye care appointment here in California. I still work for the same organization, but the benefits are a little different and the eye care provider is not Kaiser, but a stand alone company. The place I went to have my exam was not a Union shop and my experience clearly represented the difference in quality. This shop was understaffed (the benchmark of non-Union shops) and I had to wait over an hour past my scheduled appointment time just to see the doctor. The receptionist and the Optometrist were extremely apologetic, but instead of taking something out on them that they have no control over, I used the opportunity to explain the dangers of so-called right to work and to express to them how much I want a society where they wouldn't be exploited in this same way. They both agreed profusely and thanked me for my analysis and patience.
The key to that society is Unions. Not corporate type organizations, but real grassroots Unions that engage in a relentless struggle for the workers. A labor movement that will effectively link up with workers movements all over the world to do the same. A labor movement that will become a part of the worldwide movements against white supremacy, patriarchy, and homophobia. That's what we need, not this right to work scam. In 1979, about 35% of the work force in this country was in a Union. Wages were higher and the difference between worker wages and those of corporate CEOs was a ratio of 45 to 1 (45 CEO dollars to every one by the worker). Today, the Unionized work force is below 10%. The ratio between CEO wages is about 375 dollars to every one dollar earned by workers. You don't think there is a direct correlation with the increase in so-called right to work states? If you don't, then you deserve exactly what is coming your way if so-called right to work becomes national law as those idiots in Washington are working for right now.