You want to stir up a hornets’ nest, just inject the issue of right to work laws into a political debate. This is inflammatory stuff to be sure. While we think of it as a development over the past few decades, it really connects back to the early days of the labor movement.
Recall that when the labor movement was just getting under way, laws in the United States were interpreted to consider the existence of labor unions to be an illegal restraint of trade. Only after a long and sometimes tragically violent period were unions recognized as legitimate organizations within this country.
There is not space here to do even a cursory review of the development of labor law in America, nor is it necessary. The point is that the power of unions have waxed and waned over the intervening years. Part of this has been the result of changes in the interests in Congress. In other cases, matters such as the movement of industries to the southern states and even to foreign nations have impacted the power of the unions.
Employment trends have also worked to decrease the power of organized labor. Some occupations are simply more amenable to labor organization than others. As the employment picture has shifted away from those industries whose employees are most likely to be sympathetic to unions, we’ve seen the power of organized labor fall even further.
“Right to Work” states largely exist in the South. What the term means is that the “union shop” is outlawed. In other words, in a right to work state, employees can choose whether to join a union or not. They cannot be compelled to join a union and pay union dues in order to gain employment. Hence, even if a union has organized and represents its members in a particular business, if someone doesn’t want to join the union but still work there, that’s their right.
Unions argue this is unfair as they wind up negotiating for the benefit of all the employees with those not paying union dues getting a free ride. Others believe that employees should not be compelled to join unions, with funds often going to causes they do not support, or just on the believe they they do not wish to be represented by the union and that should be their right.
With the number of right to work states growing, this is a stake issue for the U.S. labor movement. So we should not be surprised to learn that when the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that Wisconsin’s right to work law is constitutional that the unions and their supporters in the legislature were anything but happy. In addition, adding Wisconsin to the list of right to work states only strengthens the movement which has moved from the South to other parts of the nation.
“The Free Beacon updates us on the right to work movement in Wisconsin, where the state court of appeals has just delivered a major ruling which comes as a serious blow to the state’s unions. The Badger State passed a right to work law back in 2015 which forbids companies from making union membership compulsory as a condition of employment, but the unions have been throwing their full weight into challenging the law and tying it up in court.
“That may have finally come to an end this week as the justices tossed out one of their final claims. The unions argued that the law was somehow in violation of the state constitution, but the court found the argument unpersuasive.”
“The Wisconsin Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the state’s right-to-work law was constitutional and ordered a district court to dismiss a union lawsuit on Tuesday.
“The three-judge panel effectively ended a suit from a coalition of the state’s largest labor unions seeking to block the 2015 law, known as Act 1, from taking effect. The Court said the unions failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the law, which prohibits companies from mandating union membership as a condition of employment, violated the state Constitution by unlawfully denying them property without compensation.
“‘Act 1 does not take property within the meaning of the Wisconsin Constitution. … The Unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of non-member employees,’ the ruling says.”
What all this means is that the body of case law ruling that right to work laws are legal is growing thereby making unions’ claims much harder to sustain. The end result is that it will be up to the unions to convince workers that it is worth paying dues to the union rather than compelling them to join as a condition of employment.
This sounds like the extension of freedom. That the left is unhappy about this says something about its embrace of liberty and individual rights.
Source: Hot Air