I went to a union meeting Tuesday night, at the IBEW Local #1 hall. I was one of 400 people in attendance, probably one of a handful of people who were not union members. We met to understand how petition signatures should be collected. The goal is to suspend enactment of Missouri’s “Right-to-Work” law and place it on the November 2018 ballot.
In a nutshell, the law allows for non-union workers to work in union businesses and not have to pay union dues — and on the surface, so what? So what is that the people who don’t want to pay union dues are still protected by and will still enjoy the collectively-bargained benefits negotiated by the unions on behalf of their members.
Missouri’s legislators believe that this will attract new business to relocate to our state, even though a Washington University professor who has studied the matter, says that in other states, the law doesn’t make much impact.
As of August 3, 2015, Business Insider ranked Missouri 47 out of 51 (states and District of Columbia) for condition of the local economy. Add this to wages that have remained relatively flat for over a decade, one realizes that in order to grow the Missouri economy, “Right-to-Work” isn’t even a Band-Aid on a severed artery.
Instead of figuring out ways to get workers to produce more work for fewer wages, both our state and Federal governments ought to be developing ways to modernize infrastructure and develop training centers to produce the highest skilled people on the planet.
As long as businesses engage in “activities” like wage theft, Unions and collective bargaining are still needed. While I would love to believe that businesses and employers can be trusted to do what’s right (this is something that a supervisor once told me — with a straight face), the fact that pro-business is actively lobbying to repeal the prevailing wage law, tells me that they want to keep wages as depressed as possible for as long as possible.
Perhaps unions could also re-examine their message and dues structure. I remember when I came to St. Louis, I was working part-time at a grocery store, a union shop, and was required to pay full dues. On part-time wages, that was a bitter, and hurtful, bite. For a while, it turned me off of the whole union idea. I’m sure others with part-time hours and low wages have felt the same sting I did. I, at least, had grown up with knowing union history. Today things are different — young people aren’t being taught union history and what unions have done to help transform this country..
Unions could develop a sliding scale so that workers making less than a journeyman’s wages would not feel the pinch as much, and their dues responsibilities would be commensurate with any advancement in wages. [If this is already a thing, I would appreciate for a member brother or sister to chime in and correct me.]
As Congressperson for District 1, here in Missouri, I pledge to work for the working people of this area, and develop programs that will benefit not only this district but Missouri as a whole. I have friends all across this state, and my one goal is to make life better for everyone. I need your contributions and support to make this so. Please donate at ActBlue.com.