Right To Work

Right to Work (for LESS) weakens representation by allowing some workers to enjoy the advantages of union membership without contributing. It eliminates job security, lowers pay and cuts full-time jobs, while creating more part-time work. In short, it’s a tool to roll back rights and put more money into the pockets of the rich.


Right to Work (for LESS) Q & A

What is Right to Work (for LESS)?

The name “Right to Work” is very misleading because it does not guarantee anyone a job, it actually weakens the only job security an employee has, the union.

In November of 2010, elections brought to power many anti-union lawmakers and governors throughout the United States. In more than two dozen states these politicians proposed laws to weaken unions, including: so- called “Right to Work” (for LESS) laws. These proposals were part of a well-coordinated campaign backed by corporations that spent more than $1 billion to influence the election.

On March 28, 2013, Michigan became the 24th state with Right to Work (for LESS) laws. Under a state’s Right to Work (for LESS) law, workers do not have to join the union or pay dues, but are ENTITLED TO THE FULL BENEFITS OF THE UNION CONTRACT.

Unions in these states are required by law to defend non-dues paying members (AKA freeloaders) involved in a dispute or charged with misconduct at work, but even those employees do not have to contribute dues. Such a provision DOES NOT GIVE WORKERS MORE RIGHTS, but weakens unions and their ability to bargain for improved benefits and working conditions.

The union, by law, must represent all workers equally. It’s an arrangement where everybody pays their fair share. If not, a worker who pays union dues would work next to a worker who is a freeloader and pays no dues. How would you like that? They pay no dues but have equal rights to vacation time and to promotions from the whole contract.

Both receive the same pay and benefits from a bargained contract, but one gets them for free. Freeloaders, those who don’t pay their fair share, can even sue the union if they FEEL they are not being represented.

Shouldn’t individual workers be able to choose to be in or out of the union if they want?

No, because it allows them to receive the same benefits as a dues paying member under the union contract. They force unions to use their time and members’ dues money to provide union benefits to freeloaders who won’t pay their fair share. They weaken unions at the negotiating table.

Will Right to Work (for LESS) help Michigan’s manufacturing crisis?

The idea that Right to Work (for LESS) gives states a competitive edge is untrue, especially in today’s global economy. Compare North Carolina, a RTW state with the smallest percentage of unionization in the country, with Michigan. Between 1994 and 2005, North Carolina’s manufacturing job loss, both in absolute numbers and the decline in the overall share of manufacturing jobs after RTW took effect.

Will right to work help Michigan’s economy?

Some low-wage employers might think that they would benefit from weak unions and low wages, but union members are also consumers. Right to Work (for LESS) laws undermine the purchasing power of unionized workers. Employees covered by union contracts receive 28 percent more in wages and benefits than workers without unions. For women workers, the union advantage is 34 percent. For African American workers, the union advantage is 29 percent. And for Hispanic workers, the union advantage is a whopping 50 percent. When Right to Work (for LESS) laws drive down wages and benefits, workers have less to spend and the entire economy – particularly small business--suffers.

If workers have a choice every time they vote for their contract, and if the union representing everyone is in the same arrangement as the rest of America’s elections, why do some people think right to work is a good idea?

Well, look and see who says right to work is a good idea for Michigan. Very conservative right wing newspaper editors (at a newspaper that caused a five year strike); business owners that know union workers get paid one-third more; and Republican party politicians who know that over 80% of union members vote Democratic.

Are there any union members who support right to work?

There would only be a few. Some members might be mad that they lost a grievance or are otherwise unhappy with their union. The large majority of union members know that a unified organization is stronger and will produce a better deal for workers.

Will a Right to Work (for LESS) law protect a worker’s right to a job?

No. These laws guarantee no one a job, nor do they provide any due process or just cause protections against unfair firing. By undermining unions, so-called Right to Work (for LESS) laws would weaken the best job security protections workers have - a grievance procedure that requires employers to have legitimate, job-related reasons for disciplining or discharging an employee.


The REAL Facts About Right to Work (for LESS)

Right to Work (for LESS) laws lower wages for everyone.

The average worker in states with Right to Work (for LESS) laws makes $5,538 a year less than workers in other states.

Overall, union members earn 28 percent ($198) more per week than nonunion workers.

Hispanic union members earn 50 percent ($258) more each week than nonunion Hispanics and African Americans earn 29 percent ($168) more each week if they are union members.

They endanger safety and health standards that protect workers on the job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of workplace deaths is 52.9 percent higher in states with these Right to Work (for LESS) laws.

Right to Work (for LESS) states have a lower percentage of people younger than 65 with employment-based health insurance.

Right to Work (for LESS) States are at 62.1 percent compared to Michigan at 70 percent (before right to work was passed).

More workers go without healthcare in right to work states.

Right to Work (for LESS) states are at 15.4 percent compared to 11.6 percent in Michigan (before Right to Work was passed).

Only 2.9 percent of union workers are uninsured

compared with 14.2 percent of nonunion workers.

Right to Work (for LESS) states spend $2,671 less per pupil

on elementary and secondary education than free-bargaining states.

They make it harder for unionized employers to compete for business.

Nonunion firms can gain a competitive advantage based on low-wage, no-benefit jobs.

Right to Work (for LESS) states have a poverty rate of 12.5 percent, compared with 10.2 percent in other states.

Also, infant mortality rates are 16 percent higher in Right to Work (for LESS) states.

They hurt communities by lowering workers’ buying power.

Higher unionization within a community means consumers have more to spend. That’s good for local companies, especially those in retail sales and services.


Fair Share Agreements Q & A

“Fair Share” Agreements: Fair for Unions, Fair for All Workers

What is a “Fair Share” agreement?

A “Fair Share” agreement is an agreement between an employer and collective bargaining agent which states that non-union members covered by the collective bargaining agreement must pay a fee for the costs of union representation- often, only the costs associated with bargaining, contract administration, and grievance processing.

Why are “Fair Share” agreements needed?

Unions are required by federal law to fully represent all employees in a bargaining unit, whether they are members or not. This has given rise to the problem of “freeloaders”- employees who choose not to join the union but still receive the full benefits of being represented. This is unfair to both the union and its members. The union must represent employees who do not contribute to its efforts, and members end up footing the bill for non-members.

What costs are considered allowable expenses as part of the “Fair Share” fee?

Typically, only the costs associated with providing representation are allowed, such as bargaining, contract administration, and grievance processing. Therefore, non-members cannot be forced to pay for unrelated costs, such as costs associated with political lobbying. In the private sector, organizing costs are sometimes also considered allowable expenses.

Are Fair Share fees permissible in every state?

Right to Work states: If a worker lives in one of the twenty-four right to work states, he/she cannot be required to join a union or make any sort of payment to the union (dues, initiation fees, “fair share” fees, etc.) as a condition of employment.
Non-Right to Work states: According to the National Labor Relations Act, a worker in the private sector cannot be required to join a union as a condition of employment, but the employer and union can agree to require workers to pay dues and initiation fees. A worker can object to paying anything more than the costs of representation (i.e., anything more than the “fair share” fee). The worker can also dispute the amount of the “fair share” fee and the calculations used to determine this amount. In the public sector, a non-Right to Work state can pass a law that gives public employers and unions the ability to negotiate “fair share” agreements into collective bargaining agreements. As in the private sector, a worker can object to paying anything more than the costs of representation and can dispute the amount of the fee as well as the calculations used.

Excerpts from Joint Council #43, Right to Work For Less: Bad for Michigan, Bad for Working Families.