On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all persons held in slavery in the Confederate states shall be free now and forever. Note that it was a Republican that ended slavery, not a liberal Democrat. In fact, Democrats fought vehemently to preserve slavery.
Even though slavery had ended, many larger employers treated their employees like slaves leading to the formation of labor unions in the late 1800s. Over time, unions not only improved working conditions for millions of Americans but they became the newest slave owners. In many parts of the US, people were forced to join a union and pay dues if they wanted to work in many forms of industry.
Unions grew is size and power and controlled the working and often private lives of union workers. If the union said you worked 60 hours a week, you worked 60 hours a week. If the union said they were going on strike, you didn’t have a choice and were forced to go on strike also, causing hundreds of thousands of union members to lose their homes, cars and sometimes their families.
In 1947, the Taft Hartley Act was passed, giving states the right to pass right-to-work laws, allowing residents to not join a union or pay union dues if they didn’t want to. Union membership would not be a condition of employment.
Unions fought hard against the passage of the Taft Hartley Act and once passed, they fought against every right-to-work bill in every state. They fought for their very existence as they knew that many people would opt out of the union given the chance and take their monthly dues with them.
One by one states began to pass right-to-work laws. Most recently was Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin who passed right-to-work bills, bringing the total up to 25 states and many unions are not happy.
Among the unions being affected by right-to-work laws are the teachers’ unions. In non-right-to-work states, teachers are forced to join the union and pay monthly dues, regardless of how little they earned. Basically, these teachers who are forced to join the union are the slaves of the union.
In 1993, membership in teachers’ unions was about 70% nationwide, but with more states passing right-to-work laws, teachers’ union membership has dropped below 50%. For instance, Wisconsin teacher’s union membership had topped 100,000 but has now fallen to less than 40,000 as a result of the right-to-work law and Act 10 which drastically limited the collective bargaining powers of government unions including the teachers’ unions.
Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012. Since that time, they have seen a 20% drop in membership of the teachers’ unions. Not only are Michigan teachers’ unions losing members and revenue, but they are losing contracts with school districts. A number of districts had signed long term contracts with the unions and as those contracts expire, many districts are opting not to renew them.
Unions in the remaining 25 states that are not right-to-work states are anxiously awaiting a court case, Friedrichs v California Teachers Association, that could make every state a right-to-work state without the states passing their own laws. According to Larry Sand of EAGNews.org:
“If the litigants are victorious, no teacher – or public employee – in the country will be forced to pay any money to a union as a condition of employment. With oral arguments in just 13 days, the ruling will be finalized in six months.”
It should be up to the person to decide if they want to join the union and pay dues or not. Being forced to do so is a form of slavery pure and simple. Hopefully the court will rule in favor of the litigants and union slavery will come to an end.