Framing the Dialogue

Parsimony – Right-To-Work

Yet again an Associated Press story is the muse fo a Parsimony post.  I don’t seek out AP stories, but it often seems like their reporting often shows the bias of the mainstream media.

First the headline (with a link to the original story)…

Unions expect right-to-work will cost them members  

…Now the story

INDIANAPOLIS – After losing their fight against right-to-work legislation, labor organizers are making a desperate bid on shop room floors and at union halls to persuade members to keep paying their union dues and avoid crippling labor’s influence in Indiana [and all across the country although that has been the trend for more than a decade with decreasing membership in the private sector].

Factory workers, painters, electricians and other workers in the state’s 179,000-member unionized work force are being called into meetings to hear impassioned pitches on why they should keep authorizing deductions from their paychecks even though the law means they no longer have to do so [choice is such a pain in the butt].

“We’re gonna push them pretty hard […you can be sure it will be in a non-threatening way.  He really meant persuade or visit them at home and where thier children go to school] and let them know this is what our services provide,” said Brett Voorhies, legislative director for the United Steelworkers District 7, which has 45,000 active members in Indiana and Illinois. He said he has met with members of 200 locals in Indiana since supporters of the pro-business legislation begin planning their push for right-to-work last year [doesn’t it say enough about many labor unions that a law that allows workers to CHOOSE whether to join a union is labeled as “pro-business” and doesn’t that mean that unions by the same thought are anti-business?].

But some union members are clearly tempted to drop out. Some who are politically conservative resent labor’s campaign donations to Democrats [hundreds of millions of dollars of union dues]; others may feel they just need the extra money.

“We’re concerned at this point at how that’s going to affect us,” said Kelly Hugunin, unit president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 in Indianapolis. “I’ve had several people say `Yeah, I’m still going to pay my dues.’ And there’s been some that have said they’re not going to pay.” [that’s pretty deep stuff Kelly]

How many members decide to become “free riders,” [that’s not deurogatory at all] as non-dues payers are called, will determine whether the passage of the right-to-work law here turns out to be a mostly symbolic setback for organized labor or a grave financial and political blow. [He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.  They threw in with the Democrats, progressives, and socialists and not the pedulum has swung]

No comprehensive data exist on how much active union membership dropped in the 22 states that adopted the law in earlier years. But after right-to-work passed in Oklahoma in 2001, about a quarter of union members stopped providing financial support. [in other words they decided to keep their money that they had previously been FORCED to pay against their wishes.  Using the term “financial support” is such bias.]

Hugunin says he fears his local could lose 30 to 50 percent of its paying members. [He may have to take the bus to union meetings and they’ll have to start drinking domestic beer]

“I’ve had a lot of folks come to me and ask. `What’s going to happen?’ as far as dealing with members and nonmembers,” he said. [Members will be “okay” while non-members will be “pushed pretty hard”…maybe even in front of a bus or train]

Indiana’s experience is being closely watched across the nation because it is the first state in the manufacturing Rust Belt to adopt the controversial law [It’s only “controversial” because the media has portrayed it that way.  What is more American than letting a woman choose whether she joins the union?  Hey politicians get out of her purse!], which says that workers in a unionized workplace cannot be required [FORCED AGAINST THEIR WILL] to pay for union representation. The other right-to-work states are clustered in the conservative South and Mountain West. […and coming to a state near you]

Supporters of right to work, which was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature here two weeks ago, say the measure will draw more employers to the state and increase jobs. But union officials say the measure just lowers wages [or adjusts wages based on their value…yeah maybe no more room for $30.00/hour laborers] and was intended to punish unions for supporting Democratic candidates. Organizers say the money they lose will reduce their ability to provide services to their members and to organize workplaces. [alternatively they could actually spend their dues on providing services to members and attract members that way…you know the old fashioned way…give them a product that they want and are willing to pay for…much like businesses have to do.]

In addition to negotiating for wages and benefits, the unions help workers with grievance filings [ever heard of EEOC, Labor and Industry] and safety violations at work [ever heard of OSHA?]. Some also help provide job training for workers who want new skills and help cover lost wages while they are at the training sessions. Such benefits might be unaffordable if union income drops. [or they may have to just stop giving so many hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns]

Voorhies said the key problem is that workers will get the same services on their jobs whether they pay the union dues or not. [true, but he ignores the fact that they should rethink their business model and do what earlier unions did…offer services that attract members.  They have obviously lived too long off of forced payments.  Or is he whistling past the graveyard knowing that members may see that they don’t do all that much for them]

“I don’t see any service we cannot offer them,” he said. “Everything from grievance representation to political representation and lobbying and all that; it’s a service provided through dues.” [Nobody disagrees about the “services” it is all about being forced to pay for those “serviced” even though many of those “services” are contrary to the beliefs of members.  You have to figure that at least 40% of union members are conservative and do not agree with the political positions of the union-supported Democrats.]

However, he added, “If folks keep opting out, sooner or later we could go defunct and there would not be a union there to provide those services.” [OR another, better union will step in and provide actual services…it’s called competition]

Terry Bowman, an auto worker from Ypsilanti, Mich., who has been rallying support for a national right-to-work law, said many politically conservative workers have long objected to the idea that some of their dues go for campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. In Indiana, the Democratic candidate for governor in 2012, John Gregg, reported raising $1.7 million last year, much coming in large donations from unions.

Bowman said unions would provide better services to members if they had to work harder for their support.

“I hear all the time from union members extremely unhappy with the representation they get from their unions,” he said. “Unions don’t have to compete for your loyalty.”

Union organizers said they are worried about tensions growing in workplaces as members decide whether they will pay or not.  [this is a not to subtle way of threatening violence or “pushing pretty hard” at those who choose not to join] The big tests for Indiana’s unions will be at car companies like Chrysler represented by the United Autoworkers in central Indiana and at the steel plants in northwest Indiana, near Chicago, that are organized by the United Steel Workers.

“I’m kind of worried that tempers flare between folks. We could see some fights. I don’t want to see it come to that,” Hugunin said. [bullship]

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jimmy Curry, said unions there have avoided severe losses by maintaining good communication with workers and providing the workplace help they wanted most.

“We were doing it before and we’re doing it still,” he said. “Right-to-work didn’t change any of that.”

FYI – I work in an union-covered position though I chose not to join.  I am forced to pay a “fair share” for the “services” of the union which amounts to one percent of my wages and I am sickened each time I see how much they donate to politicians and causes in which I do not agree or hear one of their political commercials which often contain misleading information or outright lies.  It is disgusting.

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