86

Airline workers may need to study up on “Right to Work” laws, which have been helping big business defund unions for years. Important politicians are trying to extend Right to Work rules into all unions and employee groups. This may soon include airline and railroad workers, who have largely been spared until now.

Simply put, if you are paid an hourly rate, “Right to Work” laws will hurt you, and leave you with fewer rights at work.

How will “Right to Work” laws affect Employees and Employee Groups?

When it comes to unions, “Right to Work” laws unfairly (and severely) discriminate against employees that try to negotiate as a group with their employers by reducing their funding through dues. Employee groups do not have access to billions of dollars in corporate profits, and must pool their money together in order to compete. This is what “dues” are; contributions from everyone, collected for the common good.

When unions begin to evaporate, wages collapse throughout the economy, and all workers suffer.

Unions help support wage growth, even for nonunion workers, by raising prevailing pay standards and creating upwards competition between businesses trying to attract talent. Without unions, the power balance tips to the employers and away from employees, allowing bosses to lower wages, benefits and standards.

How do “Right to Work” Laws Defund Unions?

“Right to Work” laws harm workers by forcing labor unions and employee groups to provide services to nonmembers without compensation. Over time, this will eventually starve unions of the money they need to operate at all. Supporters claim that “Right to Work” is needed in order to give people that do not want to work in a unionized workplace the option to work there anyway, but without having to be a part of the union or pay dues. However, the laws still require unions to provide all the services that they perform for dues-paying members to the non-members, as well.

Non-members will still collect the pay raises and benefits that the union negotiates, and they will still receive the job protections and workplace rules that are enforced though union grievance procedures… all of which is funded by dues payments. “Right to Work” makes paying for these services voluntary.

No business or organization would survive for long if it were forced to deliver products to nonpaying consumers. By forcing labor unions to perform work without compensation, “Right to Work” Laws obviously exist to drive unions out of business. The goal isn’t to protect the right of employees to work (that’s what unions do – if they can fund themselves), they exist in order to prevent employees from working together when they negotiate with their boss.

Do Other Organizations Have Similar Rules?

It’s hard to imagine how other organizations would respond to equivalent laws. Country Clubs, Homeowner Associations or private Health Care facilities that were forced to provide services without being paid would quickly go out of business. “Right to Work” backers understand this, which is why they are spending so much to fund their anti-union efforts at the Federal level. Since “Right to Work” laws are specifically designed to destroy unions, they are only applied to employee groups. Other organizations that require membership fees or dues, such as cable companies or country clubs, are not affected.

But, shouldn’t people have a right to work in a unionized workplace without joining the union that represents those workers?

Job applicants that do not want to work in a unionized workplace will find an abundance of non-union jobs to choose from. Fewer and fewer employees in the United States belong to a union; it is very easy to find a nonunion workplace in America.

The goal of “Right to Work” is to force unions out of business, and force employees to negotiate on an “individual employee vs the Company” basis, which favors the company and places employees at a disadvantage.

Does “Right to Work” help create more jobs? Are “Right to Work” employees paid more?

There is no evidence that “Right to Work” increases hiring rates. Hiring new workers is not something that businesses do except as a last resort. And, if “Right to Work” laws actually contributed to higher wages, the only businesses that supported them would be the companies that already want to pay their employees more. And, these companies can give their workers a raise without “Right to Work.”

If “Right to Work” laws really created higher wages, companies would not support them. The fact is that work is better protected with a more equal power balance between workers and Company Bosses.

Will “Right to Work” Last?

“Right to Work” is likely to spread into the airline and railroad industries, but there are some indications that Right to Work will not hold up well if it is forced to withstand court challenges, or if it is applied to other organizations outside of organized labor. Can hospitals be forced to provide health care to non-paying consumers? Can private institutions, such as universities and country clubs be forced to accommodate non-members that do not provide financial support in return? “Right to Work” requirements that private organization should be forced to provide services to nonpaying consumers may be found unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the current make-up of the US Supreme Court is also very likely to make “Right to Work” discrimination a constitutionally-protected practice. It will take generations to unravel the damage to employees that will result from anti-worker decisions at the high court.

But, in the meantime, airline and railroad employees need to study up on “Right to Work,” and the harmful effects that it is likely to have on their paychecks and job security.