April 2024 Forums General discussion Right-to-work

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    Michigan legislature voted for the state to become a "Right-to-Work" state.

    This may require some explaining to us in Britain. "Right to work" sounds like a law guaranteeing you a job, or at least protecting your job once you have it. In fact, it's almost the opposite. The main effect of right-to-work laws is to outlaw regulations of employment and allow your boss to fire you without cause.

    Before Taft-Hartley, employers and unions were allowed to negotiate a "closed shop," in which you had to be a member of the union to get a job. If the union threw you out, you were out of a job. This turned some unions into guilds, which excluded minorities or employed only relatives of members. Taft-Hartley outlawed the "closed shop" as well as the "union shop," where you had to join a union after you were hired. Now people could enjoy the benefits of membership, including negotiation of wages, without sharing the cost. Not only was this unfair to those who did pay their share, but it made organizing significantly harder. Why should I pay dues if my fellow workers don't? Taft-Hartley allowed the "agency shop": a workplace where you didn't have to join the union, but you had to pay union dues. This was supposed to prevent the free-rider problem.

    However, Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley allows individual states to ban even the agency shop with "right to work" laws. The 24 states that do, now including Michigan, are right-to-work states.

    Wage levels are lower in Right to Work states since workers cannot engage through the unions in collective bargaining so now there is a race to the bottom as more and more employers decided to re-locate not to China via outsourcing but to other parts of America where union law is more in the favour of the employer.


    Well for the sake of argument assuming a "right to work" can even exist, the US right-to-work law is not the opposite since it probably increases raw numbers of jobs (if wages levels drop). Much the same argument (or at least a defence against losing paid jobs) as made by the Right to Work campaign front for supposedly-Socialist Workers Party in the UK incidentally.If its going to be couched in "rights" (which is dubious anyway) then I would prefer a right-to-not-work or a right-to-welfare.


    I understand what you are saying but to continue for the sake of argument i came across these comments“Right to work” has a long and fascinating history — it could stand in for the whole drift of political language over the past 150 years. The phrase was coined (as the “droit au travail”) by the French socialist Louis Blanc and became a slogan in the 1848 French Revolution, which was the first revolution in which workers demanded jobs rather than bread. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, the “right to work” was a fundamental principle of socialism, and it’s set down as an article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where it refers to the right to have a job with fair and decent working conditions and protection against unemployment.But the phrase was co-opted at the beginning of the twentieth century by opponents of the labor movement, who wanted to depict themselves as defending the interests of workers, rather than of employers. One of the earliest examples of this use of the phrase that I’ve found came from a 1903 editorial entitled “The Right to Work” in the Baltimore American, which attacked labor for paralyzing business and denounced their demands for fair wages and limited work hours as a kind of tyranny: “Any organization, whether or laborers or capitalists, which interferes with a man’s right to work when he pleases, where, how long, and for what wages, is unjust and un-American.” In the decades following that, the phrase became a watchword in the fight against the closed shop and the union shop, until “right to work” laws were sanctioned by the Taft-Hartley Act over President Truman’s veto in 1947……Labor and its supporters sometimes call them “right-to-freeload” laws. That isn’t inaccurate but it stresses the conflict between workers and makes bad guys out of the ones who won’t pay union dues, while it leaves the employers off the hook. Others have called them “corporate servitude laws.” That plays well to the liberal benches, but it’s not going to be very persuasive to the people in places like Michigan or Wisconsin who are on the fence about these questions — including a fair number of Republicans, as the California Labor Federation discovered in its successful campaign this year against a Republican-backed proposition that would have virtually banned union political activity. Those voters are sympathetic to working people but they don’t bristle whenever they hear the word “corporation.” And they don’t think of working as a Wal-Mart associate as “servitude,” just as a really crappy job. Like too much of the rhetoric of the left, the name is designed to make liberals feel good about their moral values, rather than to widen support or dispel the image of liberal sanctimoniousness.There are a couple of points you need to make about these laws. First, they’re designed by employers to break the power of unions by pitting workers against workers. And the laws tilt the playing field — employers can effectively compel stockholders to contribute to their agendas, but unions are blocked from calling on their members in the same way. But I don’t know that we need a new name for them — that’s all covered by that fine old phrase “union busting,” which was the criticism raised against Taft-Hartley — and not just by Labor, but by Dwight Eisenhower. Even in a bad era for unions, the phrase still sounds ugly and makes opponents of labor defensive (it played a bit part in the anti-Prop 52campaign). Of course “right-to-work” is so deeply anchored by now that a lot of the media are going to keep using it, but in that case you at least you can insist that they prefix it with “so called” or stick it in quotation marks—as in “so-called ‘right to work’ states,” and so on…"http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/decoding-political-buzzwords-2012?paging=off


    Britain is a sad place at the moment all what was achieved by a socialist labour gov has gone , taken away by the capitalists ,  there are no jobs vacancies where I live , it seems to be a regional job market where all the jobs seem to be in the south of England places like London !Now the government are stopping and cutting people's benefits with a slogan such as workers and shirkers to get the working classes arguing amongst themselves ,  when a tv news programme I watched the other day a working class man said to the lady in the benfits agency "what do I do  there's no work " he was alluding to his area , he was told that he has too move to find a job with him and his wife and children ,  he didn't have no savings or money to move ,  he said " it's crazy ".Though the rich get tax breaks , yet they take off the poor !I really don't understand this country anymore how do they expect people to up and move in a mass exodus?Where London it's mad it really is and truly very , very unfair to the working classes and poor honestly .

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