Tags: Mix | union | right to work | state

Labor Day Update on Right to Work

By    |   Monday, 08 Sep 2014 07:49 AM

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on Labor Day to discuss the state of right-to-work laws that are on the books in 24 states. This writer has devoted several articles to right to work because it raises basic civil rights questions as to freedom of association and the ability to pursue one's livelihood without having to pay a feudalistic tribute to an organization that asserts jurisdiction over jobs.

Mix said the view of the Foundation is that workers should have the right to join unions, which is protected by federal law, but no worker should be required to join or to pay dues to a union to get or keep a job. Unions object that right-to-work laws create a "free rider" circumstance that allows workers to enjoy the benefits of union representation without having to pay dues.

Mix's response is that it is bad enough that unions are able to assert monopoly power to represent the bargaining unit, and even worse when it is compounded by forcing workers to pay for giving up the right to represent themselves in negotiations with the employer.

Mix pointed out that a UAW local in Chattanooga, Tenn., a right-to-work state, has decided only to bargain for the members who pay dues. In this case, both the UAW and Volkswagen were trying to achieve recognition of the union by means of authorization cards rather than by a secret ballot of the employees, which rejected the union.

The number of states with right-to-work laws has grown to 24. Indiana and Michigan are the two latest states to be added. He noted Kentucky, Missouri and Montana are considering legislation, and Mix attributed this trend to the state of the economy and the relative success of right-to-work states in attracting private-sector jobs. As many as 50 percent to 75 percent of companies looking for new sites will only consider right-to-work states. Ironically he listed Iowa and Alabama as examples of right-to-work states that have a higher union membership density than do states without right to work.

In response to a caller's allegation that employees were fired when they expressed interest in forming a union for nurses, Mix explained that this action would fall under "at-will" employment legislation, which is distinct from right-to-work laws.

Washington Journal host Pedro Echevarria asked about the right of workers to recover the portion of dues allocated to political activities. Mix responded that this is a difficult process, but he cited two cases, the first being Beck v CWA, a 1988 Supreme Court case. In Beck, in order to get a refund of the roughly 80 percent share that was spent on political activities, the employee had to resign his membership and give up the right to vote on the leadership and other issues that affected his employment. A similar case called Aboud dealt with a similar issue affecting public employees.

A spirited discussion ensued regarding the relative merits of unions, and when callers spoke of positive experiences with unions, Mix gave credit to the unions for their success.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on Labor Day to discuss the state of right-to-work laws that are on the books in 24 states.
Mix, union, right to work, state
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2014-49-08
Monday, 08 Sep 2014 07:49 AM
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