The U.S. Supreme Court last summer vastly expanded the rights of government workers to not be union members against their will and now Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is proposing a bill to ensure other workers have the same choice.
Last summer’s decision was a major blow to organized labor and also undermined support for Democratic political candidates by freeing government workers from mandatory “fees” when they opt out of union membership.
The senator’s bill, S. 525, would do much the same for other workers.
His “National Right to Work Act” would, according to Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee, end “Big Labor’s” federally authorized power to force workers to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs.
“We’re extremely pleased that Senator Paul has once again introduced the National Right to Work Act, intensifying a growing debate about Big Labor’s coercive power to keep American workers in chains. This legislation would enshrine the common-sense principle – already enforced in more than half of U.S. states – that no worker should be compelled to join or pay dues to a union just to get or keep a job,” Mix said.
“In an age of legislative overreach, this is one of the shortest bills ever introduced. The National Right to Work Act does not add a single word to federal law, instead simply removing existing language in the National Labor Relations Act and Railway Labor Act that gives union officials the power to extract dues from nonunion workers as a condition of employment.”
Twenty-seven states already have such laws, made possible through the Taft-Hartley Act. But at the federal level, the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act still give unions the right to demand payments from workers.
The railway act even blocks right-to-work laws from protecting workers in the railroad and airline industry. Thousands of workers can be fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees despite working in a right to work state, supporters of the change said.
The new plan simply removes the forced-dues provisions from the law, restoring workers’ rights to not be a union member.
The support for the idea has been growing, and most recently it had 159 co-sponsors in the 115th Congress. The new plan already has a long list of supporters.
In the last few years, another five states have adopted such freedoms for workers.
Indiana was one.
“We knew Indiana’s neighbors would fear being left behind in their attempts to attract new jobs, because companies and entrepreneurs prefer to create jobs in Right to Work states, where their well-treated employees would be less likely to be targeted by Big Labor, because workers there cannot be compelled to fund union officials’ activities,” Mix said.
He sad politicians are beginning to figure out what most Americans already knew: Right to Work is not only sound public policy, but it’s also good politics.”
“Voluntary association is a quintessential American ideal, and the case for Right to Work has always rested on the principles of employee freedom, but passage of a National Right to Work law will also pay economic dividends. Studies demonstrate that workers in Right to Work states enjoy greater private sector job growth and higher disposable incomes than their counterparts in states without Right to Work protections.”
Polls, he said, show support from four of five Americans.
Now it’s time for a federal law, he said.
“A National Right to Work Act enshrines worker freedom while providing significant economic benefits for workers. The National Right to Work Committee is mobilizing its 2.8 million members to call on their representatives and senators to support the National Right to Work Act.”
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees that the government could not demand “fees” from government workers who reject union membership.
Multiple lawsuits have followed by unwilling union supporters who are demanding their money back.
“This is catastrophic for Democrats,” opined Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano regarding the 5-4 decision at the time.
The court ruled states are not allowed to force government workers to pay the equivalent of union dues, called “fees,” if they opt not to join a union.
Even though many union workers vote Republican, their leaders are heavily Democratic, and union coffers regularly fund Democrats running for office.
The majority opinion said the state’s “extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority: “Fundamental free speech rights are at stake. Abood [the previous precedent] was poorly reasoned. It has led to practical problems and abuse. It is inconsistent with other First Amendment cases and has been undermined by more recent decisions.”
Alito pointed out the court has held “time and again that freedom of speech ‘includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.'”
He continued: “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionably violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned. Suppose, for example, that the state of Illinois required all residents to sign a document expressing support for a particular set of positions on controversial public issues – say, the platform of one of the major political parties. No one, we trust, would seriously argue that the First Amendment permits this.
“Perhaps because such compulsion so plainly violates the Constitution, most of our free speech cases have involved restrictions on what can be said, rather than laws compelling speech. But measures compelling speech are at least as threatening.”
The minority dissent lamented that unions would lose “a secure source of financial support.”