During a Senate meeting on September 20, lead author Elizabeth Warren and co-sponsor Sherrod Brown introduced a new pro-union bill.
The “Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act” is a short proposal with one goal in mind: repeal Right to Work legislation across the country. The Senators behind the bill argue that these laws make it harder to form unions, thus handing control to employers and removing workers’ abilities to fight for better labor standards.
“So-called Right to Work laws give corporations the ability to trample workers’ rights and dismantle unions. I refuse to let that happen,” said Brown. “Right to Work is really ‘Right to Work for less.’”
Proponents of Right to Work fear repeal due to claims that it gives states a competitive edge. With less time invested in negotiating union bargains, more money can be put back into the business. Cheaper labor also makes them an obvious choice for many industries.
“Right to Work doesn’t function as the name implies,” said Richard Dalton, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 in Cleveland, OH. “What should be a great bill is really a way for politicians and businesses to exploit workers. Workers will be compensated less, work more and, worst of all, suffer for it.”
Twenty-seven states have enacted Right to Work legislation since the 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act gave them the ability.
While efforts to enact these laws have often been unsuccessful, the Republican sweep in 2016’s general election has previously pro-union states signing Right to Work bills. With the most recent passage in Wisconsin, unions are growing concerned.
Right to Work refers to a collection of laws which impact how workers join unions. Under it, a worker is not required to become a union member or pay dues. They will receive membership benefits regardless of whether they join.
When workers opt out of paying dues, unions become financially unstable. After collapsing, the workers can fall victim to predatory labor practices. Lower wages, longer hours and exposure to substandard working conditions become commonplace. The money businesses save doesn’t trickle down to employee paychecks or their workplaces.
Studies have shown that the hazards of Right to Work far outweigh the benefits. Business may increase as labor becomes cheaper, but reduced wages mean workers struggle to keep up. Even with a 40-hour work week, millions of people across the country find themselves barely paying bills. In some cases, a second job may be required. Unattractive jobs make industry growth slow to a crawl.
“This bill is a landmark step in the fight against Right to Work,” said Dalton. “As more states begin adopting these policies, our voters and workers need to make their voices heard. Call your senators and let them know you support the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act.”
For more information on Right to Work in Ohio, visit: http://protectohiosmiddleclass.org
SOURCE: Keep Ohio's Heritage
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