Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

"Right to Work": what does such a law mean and who wrote it?

  "Right to Work" ("RTW") sounds like a great idea. Why should anyone be deterred fro a "right to work"? If something is a "right," it should be protected by law.

  The wording of HB 1028 is similar to the other two bills pending before our General Assembly:

"Makes it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual to: (1) become or remain a               member of a labor organization; (2) pay dues, fees, or other charges to a labor               organization; or (3) pay to a charity or another third party an amount that represents dues,              fees, or other charges required of members of a labor organization; as a condition of              employment or continuation of employment. Establishes a separate private right of action              for violations or threatened violations." 

Again, that sounds fair. Except for a couple of factors.

   First, under Federal law, the Taft-Hartley Act, a person cannot be compelled to become a member of a union as a condition of employment. Persons who choose not to belong to a labor union still must pay for costs directly related to the union’s negotiation of wages and benefits of the contract under which that person works. That differs from full dues because the person does not pay toward expenses of lobbying and other activities of the union, only those expenses that produced the wages and benefits the union obtained for the workplace.

   Second, union wages tend to be higher than non-union wages. First, as anecdotal authority, is my family’s business. From 1954 to 1969, my father was a plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractor. I do not know when he went union, but I have recollections of his interactions with the unions as early as 1962. In 1969 he went entirely into commercial sheet metal—for the most part heating, air-conditioning, and other air systems in which duct work, fabricated by sheet metal workers, was the main component. His was a union shop. I have read some of the anti-RTW websites and their mention of how contractors "choose" to be union. That gives the notion a rosy feel, like he would go to the Labor Day picnic each year and sing union songs with everyone. My old man hated unions. He thought their members were overpaid and had too much say in a workplace, the physical existence of which he owned. He always talked about going non-union. He only talked about going non-union because of the quality of the skilled labor the union provided on a few hours’ notice. The union had an apprenticeship program. To become a journeyman, a worked had to go through four or five years of training. Sheet metal workers sometimes were referred to as "tinners." Some of them were bums. Some were amongst the best craftsmen I have encountered. Most were good at what they did. If he had been non-union, my old man would not have had access to the labor pool called the "union hall." He would have had to keep people on his payroll who had acquired their training someplace (who knows?). Construction is a business of stops and starts. He would bid and obtain work on a job and need a dozen men. Several months later, the job would be over. He had no concerns about availability of labor. That was because of the union.

      One point I want to make in closing, then I’ll pick up tomorrow. The Indiana RTW legislation is being pushed by the Indiana Opportunity Fund, inc. Again, that has a sunny sound to it, doesn’t it? Except that the Indiana Secretary of State lists its "entity address" as 1 South 6th Street, Terre Haute, Indiana. That is the office address of James Bopp, Jr., who acted as legal counsel for Citizens United in that really awful Supreme Court case. He is listed as resident agent and incorporator for the Indiana Opportunity Fund, Inc.

   Also, what Hoosier statespeople drafted the proposed RTW legislation? I am not sure authorship can be claimed by any individual. However, the basics were cribbed from the American Legal Exchange Council. What is ALEC? It is not a member of the Baldwin family. It is a not-for-profit corporation funded, amongst others, by the Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil. Its Indiana co-chair is Duke Energy Company. You know—the folks who were in the press last summer. Duke has huge cost overruns on a power plant it is building in Indiana. Duke wants to pass those overruns on to the people (us) who pay for the energy the plant might someday produce. Duke executives sought to hire as legal counsel the lawyer who was general counsel for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. They made offers while he still held that position. The IURC has oversight of companies like Duke.

   Next Saturday’s Show will discuss the right to work legislation before the General Assembly. We also will discuss the effect of the end of collective bargaining rights for Indiana public employees. Indiana public employees lost their collective bargaining rights by an executive order of Governor Daniels on his first day in office in 2005.

   The Show is at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell in Broad Ripple, directly across from the Monon Trail and just north of 65th Street. We start at 11 a.m.

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Comment by Mark Small on January 9, 2012 at 4:16pm

ALEC is not evil because it drafts model legislation. However, the motives behind the organization and the proposed legislation its minions draft are what I point to as antithetical to the interests of the majority of the people of this State.

My points do not constitute a "smear." To "smear" is to "sully, vilify, or soil." Random House Webster's Dictionary. Exxon/Mobil, the Koch Brothers, and Duke Energy all are acting together. It's not just Duke. They all were soiled long ago.



Comment by Paul K. Ogden on January 9, 2012 at 2:48pm

So ALEC is eviil be cause it drafts model legislation?  A lot of groups draft model legislation.

Are you using a McCarthy-ite smear by association tactic?   Just because Duke is involved in RTW doesn't mean the concept is bad.  After all, I publicly associate with you a couple days a week, and I'm not a bad person.



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