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Courtesy CBS Channel 2 Los Angeles
Right to work - The Issue That Refuses to Die!
A historical perspective.
Phoenix-like, "right-to-work" measures have again surfaced in state Legislatures,with 25 states now passing RTW legislation. RTW provisions were made possible by amending Section 14 (b) of the Taft-Hartley Act. Such measures are designed to prohibit employers from negotiating union security clauses by which all who benefit from union bargaining agreements pay their share of the costs involved in the union's legal obligation to represent all workers.
Congressmen Steve King (R-IA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) have introduced National Right to Work legislation that would make "RtW the law in all fifty states. The bill has not yet been assigned a number. It it passes it will be the death blow to organized labor in the United States Congressman King has also introduced HR 743, the Repeal Davis-Bacon Act which would repeal prevailing wages on Federal projects. This has been federal law since 1931. .
The words “right-to-work” carry the emotional freight that one attributes to the personal guarantees associated with the Bill of Rights. In reality, RtW has nothing to do with the the idea that one has a right to a job.
The phrase “right-to-work” has been found to be so misleading and confusing, that in 1954 the Supreme Court of Idaho refused to permit the term to be part of the title on an initiative measure proposed to voters in that state.
In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers cannot be legally required to join a union as part of the collective bargaining agreement. In addition (1988), a union cannot require a non-union member to pay for any union activity that is “unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.” Labor organizations, however, have long viewed those who do not share in the burden of collective representation at the workplace as freeloaders.
Taft-Hartley or 'Slave Labor Act'
Twelve years after the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (1935) which served as the “Magna Carta” of the American labor movement, the “right-to work” sentiment flowered with the passage of the Taft-Hartley law in 1947. Taft-Hartley restrained the collective strength of workers by, for example, prohibiting sympathy strikes, secondary boycotts, and secondary picketing, banned the closed shop and permitted states to ban the union shop by enacting “right-to-work” legislation. From the day of its enactment, organized labor referred to the Taft-Hartley law it as “The Slave Labor Act, ” and consistently fought for its repeal.
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