August 16-22 is National Employee Freedom Week, an annual national campaign that informs union members about their workplace rights, specifically their right to decide if they want to be union members. NEFW consists of a record 101 organizations in 42 states. CRI is one of those 101 groups and Delaware is one of those 42 states.
This week brings a lot of hand-wringing from ardent union supporters and leaders, who are concerned about having as many union dues-payers as possible, even to the detriment of their own members. Within minutes of promoting #EmployeeFreedom on Twitter, we were bombarded with attacks such as:
- “what a moronic statement they do decide if they want to unionize! They vote YES!”
- “removes the right to unionize public employees. Get your facts in order before you advocate “.
- And our favorite, “ = for oligarchy control over women”.
Let’s be clear about why CRI supports Right to Work. We have no interest in denying people who want to unionize the right to do so. We do not dispute the benefits unionization once brought to this country, in making work conditions better for millions of workers who were exploited by unscrupulous corporate bosses. If you want to know what we mean, visit a coal mine when you can and learn about the horrible manner in which employees were treated worse than animals, exploited to death. Their efforts led to changes in government law and nowadays treating employees like cattle is legally impossible, not to mention bad PR.
However, over time, unions became less about making the workplace safer and more about making money, both for workers and for union bosses, at the expense of business owners or the taxpayers. We will not even go into details about the money laundering for political purposes which offends a lot of union members, who don’t want any of their dues money going to political causes, especially ones they do not agree with. Do not be fooled by union talk about not giving money to candidates or causes. They do so, just often via PACs or other loopholes.
Over time, many union rank-and-file became dissatisfied with their union for one reason or another. Some didn’t like the union politics. Others did not feel as though they were receiving adequate benefits for the dues they pay. Some may simply have thought they could negotiate for themselves better and didn’t want to pay someone else to negotiate for them. Some others don’t like some of the union practices, such as unions which insist on promotions by seniority and not by merit, or “paying your dues first”. Others may have seen the hurting economy around them, and realized that labor unions were becoming part of the problem (for proof, look at the auto industry.)
Meanwhile, private sector union membership is falling. In 1990, Delaware had about 49,000 private sector union members. Today that number is closer to 25,000 and going down. General Motors, Chrysler, DuPont, Georgia Pacific, and Evraz Steel have closed factories and left the state, leaving many blue collar workers without jobs.
Forced unionization is not the only reason businesses have left. A lot of it is due to a declining business climate created as a result of poor decisions made by the Executive and Legislative branches. The threat of union bosses coming to manufacturers and demanding exclusive bargaining rights, however, encourages businesses to just move to a state where no employee can be compelled to join a labor union if they do not want to. Some states have seen a decline in union membership, others have seen an increase due to the total number of jobs available. Those who want to be unionized, vote to do so. Those who do not, keep their money and eschew their benefits.
Rather than do right by their members and provide the rank-and-file with membership benefits that create happy union employees, union bosses instead attack the CRI’s of the world and complain we’re doing the Koch Brothers bidding, or something like that. They choose to go negative instead of going positive. Their actions do nothing to encourage their members to want to stay, which is the number one reason membership is declining. Rather than attack us for standing for employee’s rights, they ought to ask themselves WHY a large percentage of union members want to leave. No one should be surprised that Scott Walker got 38% of the union household votes in his 2012 recall election, according to Edison Research.
We all know there is a problem in this country when it comes to creating new job opportunities, and it’s heartbreaking to see so many decent-paying jobs leave our state. We know that so-called “Right to Work” and “Employee Freedom” laws will not solve our blue-collar jobs decline on their own. They are, however, important checkboxes employers look for before investing in a state.
We want more people to see that the solution to having better-paying jobs is to create an atmosphere which encourages businesses to come here and feel like they are wanted, not despised. We want employees to be able to have a say in who represents them and what benefits they receive. For these reasons, CRI proudly supports National Employee Freedom Week.
Union workers: Learn more about your rights here
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