This topic has been a hotly debated issue for a number of years. This year it has once again come to a boiling point in a number of states that are desperately trying to balance their budgets.
Years ago, many industries were nothing more than sweat shop and slave labor types of businesses. Workers had no rights, no benefits, worked in substandard conditions and received low wages for their efforts. Labor unions were instrumental in improving working conditions and wage scales along with protecting workers rights. They helped to clean up many industries.
Union supporters have long held that a person must join a union in order to work in certain industries such as auto manufacturing, mining, electrical, clothing, retail, etc.
On the flip side of the argument, others believe that a person should have the right to work in any industry without having to join a union and pay union dues.
Earlier this year, Boeing hit the headlines with the opening of their new South Carolina plant. One of the reasons Boeing picked South Carolina to build their new assembly line is that South Carolina is a right to work state, which means that workers cannot be required to join a union to work in the airline business or any other. Boeing’s original assembly facility is located in the state of Washington which does not have a right to work law and Boeing employees are forced to join the union in order to work there.
Today, twenty-two states have right to work laws on their books.
Additionally, Ohio and Wisconsin have passed a new budget and accompanying laws that have diminished the bargaining power of government unions. As expected, this has caused a great uprising in the union communities and union leaders are mounting attacks against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
So the question that begs to be asked is whether or not workers should be required to join a union and pay union dues in order to work in government or any other industry.
Allow me to share a couple of real instances on the effects of unions on its members. Some years ago, the copper mining industry in one southwestern state went on strike. Union members were ordered not to work until the strike was settled. The strike lasted for nine months. During that time, many of the union members lost their homes and were financially devastated. The union leaders who repeatedly refused to settle with the mining companies continued to draw their salaries and suffered no financial ills from the long drawn out strike.
In another instance, a utility’s union went on strike in a right to work state where union membership was optional and voluntary. Those utility employees that belonged to the union were barred from working and again, a number of them lost homes and ended up filing bankruptcy. Those employees that were not union, were allowed to work and continue to provide for their families. My father was one of those that were able to continue to work and provide for us and we were all very thankful that he was.
Which situation would you rather be in? Should all Americans have the right to work or be forced to join a union and pay dues, which many workers can ill afford in today’s economy, in order to work?