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Free rides are costly to workers in Sussex

October 27, 2017

The national campaign to destroy unions, funded by corporate bosses like the Koch brothers, has launched an attack on Sussex County workers. Councilman Rob Arlett is leading this attack with his proposed ordinance to make Sussex County a right-to-work zone.

Right-to-work laws prevent unions from collecting fees from workers whom they bargained for but who aren't dues-paying members.

These laws create an incentive for workers to free ride since they can enjoy the benefits of union negotiations without having to pay any fees.

Think of it this way...A majority of the voters in the District 5 chose Rob Arlett. What if we had a law that said those who did not vote for him didn't have to pay taxes? Wouldn't work, would it? He represents all who live in his district, so all pay taxes.

Councilman Arlett claims his proposed ordinance is all about workers' choice. What he fails to mention is that there is no such thing as forced unionization. All unions are formed by an election process under rules established by the National Labor Relations Board. His so-called prochoice legislation is unnecessary because federal law already prohibits anyone from being forced to join a union. What our current law does is stipulate that when a majority of workers have voted to be represented by a union, everyone must share the cost of that representation whether or not they choose to join the union. The fees charged non-union members can be no more than the actual cost of representation.

Here in Delaware the right-to-work advocates like the Caesar Rodney Institute blame unions for the decline in manufacturing jobs. Then they turn around and say that only 2 percent of the private-sector workers are union members. That’s a lot of clout for so few people. Strange how they never mention the uncontrolled greed of corporations for shipping our jobs offshore as a reason for job loss.

With the decline of organized labor, most workers are left with insufficient incomes, inadequate or no healthcare benefits and, of course, no financial security in their old age with the disappearance of pensions. We can thank corporate greed for the decline in the living standards of working Americans - and those that do the front work for them, including the Caesar Rodney Institute, the Heritage Foundation and Rob Arlett.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone...Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer.”

These so-called right-to-work laws have only one purpose: destroy unions. Without unions, workers have no voice. Unions give workers the power to negotiate for better wages and decent benefits, and the security to retire in dignity, not poverty.

Pete Keenan
Selbyville
retired personnel director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International Office

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