Join Jim and Greg as they cheer much lower death rates from COVID-19 compared to the early days of the pandemic. They also sound the alarm that Democrats plan to kill right to work laws nationwide and crush the gig economy if they take full control in Washington. And they marvel at how activist Democrats have decided that Sen. Dianne Feinstein isn’t far left enough to lead the party on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
right to work
As America pauses for Labor Day, the battle between organized labor and the right to work movement remains intense. Right now, 27 states have right to work laws, which do not compel union membership or dues payments as a prerequisite for holding any job.
Last year, right to work advocates also scored a major win at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices struck down a precedent dating back to the 1970’s to rule that government sector workers cannot be required to join government sector unions or pay dues.
So where does the debate over compulsory union membership stand now? What right to work states are witnessing major efforts to reverse those laws? And what will labor policy look like if a Democrat wins the White House next year.
Listen to the podcast as Greg Corombos discusses all of this and more with Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Democrats in Virginia are mounting an aggressive campaign to roll back right to work laws that have been on the books for more than 70 years, but a leading right to work activist says doing so would damage Virginia’s economy, limit personal freedom, and pit rank and file employees against organized labor.
“First of all, it’s an issue of freedom: individual freedom and choice and liberty in the workplace, Nothing in Virginia’s right to work law stops you from joining a union if you want to or giving your entire paycheck to a union official if you choose to do that,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix
Freshman Democratic Del. Lee Carter is leading the effort in the Virginia House of Delegates. Carter is an avowed socialist who was part of a blue wave that nearly regained the majority for Democrats in 2017.
During his campaign, Carter expressed his animosity toward the right to work movement by filming the shredding of a questionnaire he received from Mix’s group. Mix says he credits Carter for his consistency,
“He’s made good on his promise. You have to give the guy credit. He told people that he would introduce a repeal of Virginia’s right to work law that’s been in effect since 1947 and simply says no worker in Virginia can be forced to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job,” said Mix.
Just two years ago, Virginia voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have written the right to work into the commonwealth’s constitution, but Mix says there hasn’t been a serious effort to repeal the right to work law since 1991.
“It appears with the margins the way they are and the climate changing the way it has that this delegate is going to make an aggressive effort to try to force Virginians to pay union dues to work,” said Mix.
The Carter legislation specifically calls for the creation of “agency shops” as opposed to “union shops.” A union shop requires all workers to join a union but a 1960’s court ruling declared it illegal to force anyone to join a private organization. The agency shop does not require membership but it does require everyone to pay union dues and fees.
Mix says it’s a distinction without much of a difference.
“The unions will say, ‘No worker is forced to join a union or will ever be forced to join a union, but you’ll be forced to pay up to 100 percent of dues to keep your job, which is basically a union shop.
“Union officials had to create semantic differences so they could say no one is forced to join a union. You’re just forced to pay dues to work, and that’s really what this bill’s about,” said Mix
The argument from organized labor is very different. Their officials contend that all employees benefit from the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate and anyone who benefits from those negotiations ought to pay dues to the union that helped them get better pay or benefits.
Mix says labor leaders like to pitch the battle as workers vs. management but he says compulsory dues really create a different conflict.
“Basically what we’re talking about here is a fight between union officials and the rank and file workers they claim to want to represent. Ultimately, that’s what this is all about. They’re trying to force those workers who they “speak for” to pay for the privilege of working,” said Mix.
Republicans control both chambers of the Virginia legislature but both majorities are very narrow. The GOP holds a 51-49 edge in the House of Delegates and a 21-19 edge in the state senate. All 140 of those seats are up for election this year in Virginia. Republican leaders insist they will vigorously oppose the Carter legislation.
Listen to the whole podcast to hear Mix lay out more of the debate and discuss why right to work laws make a big difference in the economy of the states where they exist.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer a court decision that upholds Wisconsin’s right to work law and rejects the argument of organized labor that it has a right to part of workers’ paychecks. They also shudder as a new study shows students of all political stripes evenly divided on whether “hate speech” should be protected speech, whether it’s OK to shout down speakers they don’t like, or even whether uncomfortable views should be allowed on campus. And they have fun with a political ad that is a horrible parody of a famous scene from “Top Gun.”
Organized labor leaders are licking their wounds after workers at a Mississippi Nissan plant overwhelmingly voted to reject unionization and maintain a direct relationship with their employers, and that’s view that’s becoming more and more attractive to employees in Right to Work states.
By the lopsided vote of 2,244-1,307, Nissan employees resisted the high-dollar effort by the United Auto Workers, or UAW, to become the voice for all workers at the facility. And while labor officials are protesting the vote, Right to Work activists are cheering a major win.
“I don’t know that the UAW ever made a case for why joining the union and having the union have monopoly control over all these workers’ situations and their contract and everything else was a good deal for the workers in Mississippi,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president for public information at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
He says the UAW leaders seemed to focus mainly on why unionization would be good for them.
“It was very clear why the UAW, from an organizational standpoint, wanted a victory in the South in a Right to Work state to show that they can organize a plant that wasn’t part of the traditional Big Three (of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler),” said Semmens.
“The fact that that’s in the institutional interest of the UAW from their headquarters in Detroit doesn’t do much for workers in Canton, Mississippi, where they see these jobs as far better than any of the other options in their community,” added Semmens.
In the end, the UAW lost the vote by more 25 percent despite spending huge amounts of money and bringing in pro-union figures to help make the sale.
“We don’t know exactly how much they spent on Nissan but I would not be surprised if it’s seven figures. They’ve been working there for years. They flew down Bernie Sanders and Danny Glover just in the past couple of weeks. This is an all-out, full court press but obviously they didn’t make the case to workers, who ultimately voted against the UAW,” said Semmens.
And what would be the impact if the workers did choose to unionize?
“If this vote had gone the other way, the UAW would have been installed as the monopoly bargaining representative. That means they represent every single worker, not just those who voted ‘yes’ but all of them, including those who don’t want anything to do with the union and think they’d be better off representing themselves,” said Semmens.
“A worker’s freedom is being taken away, where they’re told you can no longer go into your boss and say, ‘Hey, maybe I have an idea for how to make things work better,’ or ‘Here’s a problem I have. I’d like to work to find a solution.’ Instead, you have to go through the union as an intermediary between the worker and management,” said Semmens.
Semmens points out that UAW membership, which is now a bit more than 400,000, is a about a quarter of what it was a few decades ago. And he says it’s not because of a lack of jobs in the auto industry. He admits times are tougher for the Big Three, but that’s only part of the story.
“In the Right to Work states, we’ve seen a booming auto industry: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, all these foreign-based automakers are creating massive investment and tens of thousands of jobs,” said Semmens.
However, the results in Canton are not official. That’s because the UAW accuses Nissan of pressuring workers to reject unionizing and the National Labor Relations Board is now investigating the issue. Semmens says the overwhelming vote should put an end to the protest but he acknowledges that the process has to play out.
“It’s certainly true that this is not completely over yet, but obviously the margin of victory for those who opposed the UAW in Mississippi is pretty substantial. It’s certainly going to make it more difficult for union organizers to get this election overturned,” said Semmens.
Semmens also finds the accusations against Nissan curious given what he says are frequent heavy-handed tactics from the unions themselves in these votes. He says a recent ordeal when workers tried to get rid of their UAW affiliation in neighboring Alabama is a good example.
“It took them five votes because the UAW kept overturning the vote to actually vote out and remove the UAW. In one case, they even got the vote overturned because a worker from another facility owned by the same company came and told the workers, and this was totally truthful, factual information, that he made more money than workers under the UAW contract,” said Semmens.
Semmens says the UAW would be smart to encourage voluntary unionization, but he says the thirst for power inside big labor makes that impossible.
“Unfortunately, organized labor as a whole, and the UAW as one of the major unions, has embraced the idea that what they need is more government power to compel workers to be part of the union, to make it easier to organize workers and that sort of thing,” said Semmens.
“So they’ve focused far too much on getting the government to give them power over workers and over companies instead of actually convincing workers that joining voluntarily would be a good decision for them and that paying dues might actually be a good use of their money,” said Semmens.