Right to Work zone legislation unwise

January 17, 2014

No one in this country needs a Right to Work law to save them from union membership. Forced union membership is already against the law, thus the first paragraph in your RTW article in the Cape Gazette of Dec. 27 is incorrect.

The conditions that attract businesses are many and complex. They include: a skilled workforce, workforce productivity, tax structure, tax incentives, infrastructure assets, quality of life, location, quality of education and proximity to research universities. For the Delaware representatives quoted in the second paragraph, stating that RTW is responsible for attracting business to any state is disingenuous. Any state with the favorable conditions listed above will attract business, and it is impossible to state that a RTW law can claim the credit.

The ultimate goal of RTW zones is turning our entire state into a RTW state.

If our representatives would give robust attention to the favorable conditions listed above, instead of trying to create a work environment that degrades us all, we would all be better off for it.

The very title of this bill, Right To Work, is pure propaganda. It grants no one the right to work. it merely allows workers employed in a union shop to opt out of paying union dues, thus weakening the union. Workers who opt out probably have no understanding of the benefits of union membership.

Unions are changing with the times. The American worker is now competing with workers worldwide. Current unions for the most part are less militant, more involved in training. Some companies claim they appreciate union membership because of the skill of the union worker.

Unions gave us the 40-hour week. In 1870 the average workweek was 61 hours. Unions led that charge for the Fair Labor Standards Act putting in place a shorter work week. They organized for child labor reform which led to the Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor. Unions fought for and won employer-based health coverage and led the fight for a law which provided job-protected unpaid leave for family illness and newborn care. Unions pushed for overtime pay, safer working conditions, decent wages and a secure retirement. They helped create the strongest economy in the world.

Any worker who thinks he can hang onto these benefits and at the same time decimate the unions is naive indeed.  Life is a constant battle of fairness and decency against greed. Workers need and will always need collective protection.

RTW laws have been pushed by corporate lobbyists and their beholden lawmakers across this country for many years. The fact that a steady decline in wages was accompanied by a steady decline in unions is no coincidence. The average wage of the worker in this country has not kept up with inflation. Unions are now gaining strength again, possibly as a backlash against the failures of RTW.

There is evidence that RTW laws hurt the entire economy, result in a lower quality of life, lower wages, higher poverty. It is an absolute fact that RTW states have a 52.9 percent higher rate of workplace deaths (ref. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

There are federal and state laws that provide protection for the average worker. If employers exploit the workers by violating these laws, with no union representation, they have the right to put up, shut up, complain and/or hire an expensive lawyer and risk being fired, thus earning the Right To Work - somewhere else.

This is a bad law and should not be passed, not even for select zones.

Ann Nolan

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