BREAKING: Democrat Introduces Legislation to End Right-to-Work States


Back in June, we reported that California Congressman Brad Sherman (D) was circulating a letter to his fellow Democrats to introduce legislation to repeal “Right-to-Work” laws in 22 states.  Now, with less than a month before the mid-term elections and five weeks before a lame-duck session in Congress, Sherman has introduced legislation to eliminate state Right to Work laws all across America.

Currently, there are 22 states in the U.S. that have laws where workers who are employed at companies that are unionized have a choice whether or not to join or pay the union.  These states are known as Right-to-Work states.

On the other hand, in the 28 Non-Right-to-Work states (also called forced-dues states), it is legal for a union to negotiate a “union (income) security clause” that requires all workers covered by the union to pay the union does or ‘agency fees’ as a condition of employment.  If the workers refuse to pay the union, under a “union (income) security clause,” the union can have them fired from their jobs.

As background, in 1947, Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act with the Taft-Hartley Amendments which, among other things, gave states the right to establish “Right-to-Work” laws.  Until the Taft-Hartley Amendments, from 1935 to 1947, private-sector workers in all 50 could be required to pay dues to a union or, if not, be fired from their jobs. The ability of states to have Right-to-Work laws is contained in a single paragraph within the National Labor Relations Act (Section 14 [b]), which states:

(b) [Agreements requiring union membership in violation of State law] Nothing in this Act [subchapter] shall be construed as authorizing the execution or application of agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.

As a result of this one section being inserted into the 1947 amendments, states (through their legislatures) could determine whether or not to be a Right-to-Work state, or a forced-dues state.  Therefore, the removal of this one section would make all 50 states forced-dues states, giving unions the ability to have workers fired for not paying union dues or fees.

From the Congressman Sherman’s website [emphasis added]:

Today, Congressman Brad Sherman announced the introduction of dramatic legislation that would eliminate so-called “right-to-work” laws, which was applauded by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Sherman has a strong record of supporting working men and women and earned a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO.

Right-to-work laws require unions to represent non dues-paying employees, thereby undermining the basic premise and promise of union membership and creating free riders – people who are exempt from paying their fair share. Right-to-work laws create different standards for union membership in different states. This results not only in confusion over the regulation of union membership, but also places a higher cost on worker representation in labor rights states.


“I do not believe that there should be a right to be treated unfairly or to endure unnecessary restrictions. Right-to-work laws strip unions of their legitimate ability to collect dues, even when the worker is covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. This forces unions to use their time and members’ dues to provide benefits to free riders who are exempt from paying their fair share,” said Congressman Brad Sherman. “These laws are harmful to states like California, which allows labor unions to organize, because now we have to compete with the race to the bottom as our companies have to compete with those where the workers would like better wages, working conditions and benefits but are unable to organize to get them.”

“With the introduction of legislation banning so-called right-to-work, Congressman Sherman has once again demonstrated his strong commitment to working families,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “Right-to-work laws undermine the economy and weaken workers’ ability to bargain for better working conditions, which translates into lower pay and fewer benefits for everyone.”

While Brad Sherman’s statement about workers in Right-to-Work states not having the right to organize is patently false (the National Labor Relations Act does not discriminate on workers’ rights to organize in a Right to Work state), he is accurate that his state of California has been losing jobs.  However, there are a multitude of factors that have contributed to California’s demise—many of which were, ironically, caused by the unions that Sherman has so endeared himself.

Although Congressman Sherman introduced this legislation back in 2008, it had little chance of succeeding.  However, with the mid-term elections and a lame-duck Congress following, the chances that Democrats (who are taking hundreds of millions from unions), it is possible the chances that Democrats could vote to end Right-to-Work states.

As a result, now is as good a time as any to get Democrats (in both Right-to-Work states and forced-union states) to state their positions on whether they support an end to workers’ right to work.

[hat-tip: Projections, Inc.]

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776


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  1. let get rid of right to work laws it nothing more than low wages no benefits they can spin any way they want it no good for the working man & women who has to put bread on his or her table I stand with unions as a former member of the Carpenters union in NY CA LV & AZ

  2. This may be an unpopular opinion here but; Unions are a necessary evil. If employers/corporations played fairly then unions would not be necessary. However forcing people to join takes away freedoms from those who otherwise would choose to be non-union. And if the union employee is truly worth the difference in wage, then they should have nothing to fear from an open labor market.
    That said, illegal alien employees (undocumented workers) ruin the game for all of us. And put even more pressure on the Unionized workers, and simply forcing them to join the union may be great for the union but will eventually result in American workers being shoved out of the market also.

  3. Screw the damned unions!!! All they do is suck money from their members and buy politicians, and that doesn’t even count all the no working lazy asses they protect to keep the dues money coming. Unions are nothing more than a racket. I will not pay.

  4. Ron,

    You obviously do not understand the basics of right to work laws.

    To explain it for you, an employee has a right to work without having to join a union and pay dues to a union. Other employees at the same work site, wishing to join the union, may do so and pay dues.

  5. Unions are ruining this country. it gives the hard working people no incentive to work hard when they are going to make the same amount as the lazy guy who does nothing and I belong to a union and I HATE PAYING UNION DUES I DO NOT WANT TO BE FORCED TO PAY SOME GROUP OF THUGS MY HARD EARNED MONEY I DO NOT NEED THEM STAY OUT OF MY POCKET

  6. employers do not like organized workers because it costs them money and removes their control, so they passed this thing called “right to work”.

    your first clue someone is lying.

    “right to organize and protect your wage and job” is an appropriate title.

    a “closed shop” doesnt always feel good, especially to those on the outside. the unions can become corrupted almost as easily as the business owner. the protection starts with the union as a group of people, voted in to represent the body as one.

    the object of a corp or owner is to make as much money as possible. compassion for the workers may or may not be in the equation. it was corrupted and abusive management that necessitated the existence of unions.

    having been in a union most my working life, the union always demonstrated more benefit than cost, even when i did not always agree with the union position.

    using scary words like socialism doesn’t affect the informed but does demonstrate a certain level of arrogance and ignorance.

  7. Unions are a double edged sword. The original premise of bread and butter unionism was very much needed to improve deplorable working conditions. However; unions have become a huge political force. One does not have to look very far today to see the downside of union effects. Remember the George A. Hormel Packing company strike in the 80’s when the company asked the United Food and Commercial Workers Union members to make wage concessions to enable the company to continue its operations? In spite of the economic troubles of the meat industry, the union refused to accept any concessions because union leaders had been fired in the past for making concessions. Striking workers were replaced and years after the 10-month strike ended, Minnesota was still torn, divided and suffering.

    I do understand the basic issue of whether workers should be required to join a union or whether workers should be free to abstain from joining the union if they choose not to even though they receive the benefit of belonging to a union. Still, it should be up to the individual to decide what is in their best interest. It is a dangerous position to take decision making power away from all 50 states by stripping the Taft-Hartley amendment. There is a reason we needed this amendment in the first place, Of course, the AFL-CIO would applaud this move. It is in their best interest to have a captive audience and automatic improved cash flow. We should all get customers that easily. If unions can’t coerce workers into joining by law, they’ll just get around that other “little” obstacle by having the right-to-work law stripped.

  8. First off these are some of the most ridiculous arguments for opposing this type of legislation. If you are going to make a formidable argument do so with a bit of knowledge and do some research for yourselves.

    Second – You have the rights to work bottom line. You also have the right to choose which employer to work for. Do you have the right to benefit from ANY entity union or otherwise that you are not entitled? There is no expectation for anyone here or FORCE anyone to join a union. The dues objector is this type of person who again chooses to not join the union. If you have high pay, good benefits, vacation and overtime language, not to mention pension and retirement security because it was negotiated by a majority who are part of a union then you should by all means pay a service fee for those benefits. Otherwise find employment elsewhere that has no union shop.

    Look at it this way. You have a right to government services. Everything from medi-care, libraries, schools, public safety services etc, etc, etc. I could go on. How on earth does anyone expect to pay for these services? It is a service fee called taxes – money which everyone working person pays to receive these benefits whether or not you have to use them. Is it fair for you to NOT pay taxes and still receive these benefits? I think not – but because our government says that NO ONE can be denied services, those who do pay taxes get burdened with the additional costs.

    A union shop with dues objectors is NO different. If you want that high pay, you should have to pay a service fee for those services or find employment elsewhere. If you want to be able to retire with some money in the bank and good insurance then you should insure that you are able to do so by paying dues or a service fee for those benefits. Like the grandparents in the day used to say – nothing in life is free.

  9. Sometimes I think we forget where we came from and if we forget we are doomed to repeat it. Sure the union has dues but those dues are the unions product the aren’t making a product their members are. The strength of these unions are very important to the well being of the employee. The company sees the employee as an expense not a person. I started my job and was pulled in the wall room by my supervisor, he told me I had been doing a good job, a leader for the team. He then said look at the workers on the floor if they screw up each and everyone of them are expendable. I went back to machine thinking who is this nut job but sooned learned that this was the the feeling of most management. They were going to intentionally break the contract to see if anybody is paying attention. That is what happens when you live in a right to live off your responsible co-workers state. I felt an agenda to my life that I must strengthen my fellow coworkers, educate and inform the membership of the conditions in the collective bargaining agreement. We have a hard time standing up to the company with a house divided. Mangement will not take you seriously if you pose no threat. I know this is sad but you will be ate by the wolves if you negotiate soft. The problem being you have all these nonunion workers in your shop breeding negativity towards the company and the union, sometimes I think these people are the worst because they won’t pay dues but they will suck you dry fighting for them. I have a good standing with all the workforce and I have polled the nonunion staff to see where they stand on the issue of having a union or not and almost everybody responded no I don’t want pay dues but keep that union around for me, okay. What a crock if we don’t do something soon with the way healthcare and benifits are getting cut middle America will be living in a van down by the river. If we can’t pass this bill free and clear then we need some modification to the current law. The worst feeling is to represent someone who doesn’t and can’t see your agenda. (Unity without prejudice, and a common goal to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay) We need stand together to make a change, believe me I have not even began to fight but I will not fight alone. I hope that the state of Kansas will see it Senator Sherman’s way.


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