The Right to Work

The Republican Governor of Indiana signed into law a Right to Work act. “The measure would allow workers to avoid paying dues to a union even if the workplace, private or public, is unionized.”

Many Republicans, including Daniels, also contend that with a right-to-work law, businesses would find the state more attractive and would be more willing to move in, creating new jobs.

What this essentially means to my ears is that if a state strips unions of the power to collectively bargain, business owners can be coaxed into bringing jobs to the state with the promise of cheap labor. There has been a general move to blame unions and workers for financial woes while at the same time giving the rich a pass. Underlying this thinking seems to be the idea that the CEOs and others at the top of the ladder have earned their wealth, which is 343 times more than a typical American worker. Workers don’t. They are like replaceable machine parts. They are the grunts who must be squeezed in order to produce products that compete in the global market place, a market place that on a global scale can pay as low as .17 cents per hour, or lower.

Citations from The governor of Indiana signs state’s right-to-work labor law By Michael Muskal Los Angeles Times

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

8 thoughts on “The Right to Work”

  1. It seems like you are portraying this as the state taking away bargaining. On the contrary, it is giving the workers the right to not join. Back when the auto workers unionized in the 1920’s it was oppressive. Unions became too powerful and influenced by the mafia. Where would GM be if it wasn’t for the UAW exploiting it’s success? Toyota and Honda are both non union. The have never gone on strike, yet their workers have the right to unionize.


  2. Hi Drew,

    So in your opinion, do you think the Right to Work provision will strengthen the bargaining position of workers? Like, what effect do you think his will have? On balance, the idea of having the right not to join the union seems not only legitimate but also noble, after all, who should be forced by law to unionize, right? What makes cautious though is that it comes from a political party and movement who has essentially blamed our economic woes on collective bargaining, which I think is completely misplaced.

    So I would be curious to hear more of where you are coming from, especially as regards how this bill will effect the compensation and bargaining position of blue collar workers.


    1. Having the right to not collectively bargain will not weaken the powers or the rights of those who do. I have seen union tactics first hand growing up in a very union town (Flint, MI). I’ve seen unions force workers to join and pay dues in order to work a temporary position, but deny membership for 90 days, only to be terminated before they get their union rights or union card.I have seen unions destroy anything resembling a work ethic when I would make paint deliveries to the plants. “That’s not my job according to my union rep” or “You aren’t union, we won’t unload this truck and you are not allowed to do it yourself.”


  3. Sometimes the unions are bullies. It looks good in the ideology phase but it doesn’t always look that good in the real world. Our brief experience with it at the steel mill in Indiana was very negative. And I am not at all impressed with the teacher’s union. While fighting so hard to get bigger salaries and more benefits for the teachers, they have forgotten about the kids and the quality of teaching. I’m glad I can still choose not to be part of it.


  4. Most legislation is so full of crap that you don’t know what effect it will have. On the surface I think it’s good to have a choice. Unions have had both a good and bad side. And don’t forget, the 1% is at the top of unions too.


  5. Some data possibly of some relevance to this thread, especially perhaps for Drew from Flint, the town where General Motors was founded in 1908. Over the last 20 years GM’s share of the US auto market has dropped from 34% to 19%. During that interval, membership in the United Auto Workers has declined from 1.5 million to 0.4 million. The Japanese manufacturers with plants in the US are all non-union shops I believe.


    1. That’s embarrasing! Will be an issue in the election….assuming Mitt wins, of course. Quite a turn of events that he’s scrambling to get back into the lead.


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