Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Right To Work Law In New Hampshire

Aren't the Republicans masters of phrasing?  The "estate tax" becomes the "death tax" and an effort to destroy unions becomes "the Right To Work."  I mean, isn't everyone for the right to work?

Who is against telling a man or woman they have a right to work?

But, of course, what the law before the legislature in Concord, New Hampshire aims to do is to destroy unions, because, well, Republicans are the owner class, the bosses, and they hate unions.

The problem for Democrats is they have not been able to come up with a reasonable sounding answer to the anti union argument, which has been framed not as an anti union argument but an argument for freedom, for personal freedom to choose not to join a union.

If I am a man who wants to work in a super market but I grew up being repulsed by Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters' Union or if I currently hate the police union because they protect murderous, racist cops, why should I be forced to pay union dues?

All I want to do is to go to work and draw my pay. I don't want to join a movement. What's wrong with that?

The answer, of course, is you do not live your life in splendid isolation. You cannot ignore others around you. You are part of groups whether you want to be or not.

If the government fights a war, that requires a group effort. You can get drafted.
If you want to go to public school or send your kids to school, you have to be vaccinated against measles, because, much as you might want to just be left alone, you carry viruses which can threaten the health of those around you.

You benefit from the union contract, even if you do not join the union, because the union has done a lot of work negotiating with the owners to get the best wage and the best health insurance package, and since the union has done all this labor for you, you should not get a free ride. If you decide to undercut the union, to work for a lower wage, you have not taken that action in isolation, you have affected the market value of that job.

The bosses would be very quick to come down on any competitor to their product who undercuts their price--just look at all the hew and cry over China "dumping" steel in the U.S.--but when you undercut the wage package, well then you are a hero as far as the bosses and their Republican tools in the legislature are concerned.

But I never asked the union to do anything for me. How do you know I couldn't have negotiated with the boss for a better wage than what the union got?

The bosses, of course, would love you to think that. In fact, I worked for a corporation which in its employment contract forbid me to discuss my salary or benefits with any other worker. That was a firing offence. Why? Because the bosses knew they could keep wages down if they could prevent one worker from finding out another worker, doing the same job, was getting paid more.

There are some businesses which simply cannot run without human beings doing labor--everything from hospitals, to bus companies to super markets. True, technology is replacing workers in many businesses, but as long as the business needs human beings to do business and to make a profit, the workers are part of the cost of doing business and the owners and stock holders live in opposition to those workers every day, to the extent the wages paid are part of the overhead which gets subtracted from income to yield net profit.

But back to the "Right to Work" laws, which say the union can exist but it cannot ask workers who do not join the union to pay for the work of negotiations which those workers never asked the union to do for them.  Doesn't that sound fair?

The argument is, well, before you arrived, we had a union which got agreement for a pay scale, open to all, and every year since you've been here, you've benefited from that pay scale. You may not have asked for us to do the work, but you've benefited, so you have to pay your fair share.

You never asked the government to build the road you use to get to work, but you use that road and it needs upkeep, so you have to pay the tolls, the gasoline taxes used to support maintenance of that road. You can say, "Well, but I never asked for you to build that road," but as long as you benefit from it's presence, you pay.

You can say, well, that's different, because I can choose to use that road or not, but I can't choose to pay or not to pay those union fees.  But, actually, if you choose to work for a business which is kept going by the labor of its employees, you have chosen to benefit from the efforts of the union, which keeps the business going by insuring a reliable work force.

What you are really arguing in refusing to pay your dues is you want to live off the grid, you want to be unconnected to others while still benefiting from the work others do.  Some would say you want your cake and to eat it too.

All the benefits without any of the costs.

In fact, you learned to read and write at public schools and you paid property taxes for that. That made you more valuable to the business which employed you. You showered and used your home toilet before getting to work, more infrastructure you paid for. But when you got to work, suddenly you claim to be unconnected to the other workers keeping that business going. You are the lone cowboy, riding the range, the independent, self reliant man who needs nobody else in the world.

In the practical world, of course, if you allow some workers to opt out of paying union dues, then, especially when things get tight, more and more workers may opt out of paying dues and eventually the union collapses for lack of funds.

And when you get to work, you function in splendid isolation, with no desire to bond with your coworkers.

Congratulations: You need nobody in this life. You are strong enough to stand alone. Gary Cooper in "High Noon."

The Republicans want to frame this as an argument for personal freedom for that lone cowboy, that self reliant man who doesn't need the help of his co workers to fend for himself. Guy probably carries a gun, too, cause he don't need no police to protect him.  Truth is, that cowboy needs other people or he wouldn't be working for a pay check.

But if you want that job, where others work to support you, you have to pay.
You want to open your own business, work without others supporting you. Go right ahead. You want a pay check which has been enriched by the work of others, pay your damn dues.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Exactly!!! No free rides in the name of personal "freedom"..You do have to hand it to the Republicans, they are indeed masters at crafting the cleverly misleading phrase and title- "Make America Great Again", "Right to Work" being two superb examples...It's a gift...The fact that "Right to Work" has not a thing to do with a person's ability to work is immaterial. Oh, but then the uninformed might pipe back-"A person shouldn't be forced to join a union"..which of course they are not currently forced to do. They pay an "agency fee" for collective bargaining only. It is illegal for the union to charge for political work or organizing costs, so the non-member is not being forced to support political activism they disagree with. They are paying for collective bargaining only, which all the employees benefit from-they're not paying the same rate as union members.

    So why else would the average Joe support RtW legislation? RtW states have lower wages, lower insurance coverage, lower job place safety standards and higher workplace fatality rates..Oh let's go fight for the freedom to welcome that to our state-Yee-haw!! There are no RtW states in the Northeast, so of course the movement would love to gain a foothold in NH..Let's just hope Granite Staters realize "Right to Shoot Yourself in the Foot" would be a far more accurate title..

  2. M,
    Oh, there you go again, being informed, citing statistics, formulating an argument like somebody who actually went to school and got educated.
    Now, if Mr. Trump were here, or if he were simply tweeting it would go something like this: "Forcing people to pay protection money to the unions is a hideous racket. Just like the days of Jimmy Hoffa! It's an outrage. People who support it are just so corrupt. They belong in jail! What a disaster. We don't need union fees extorted from hard workers who just want to have a job! What a disaster! We're going to have the best jobs with no union fees. We'll all be winners. We'll be winning again and everybody can have their jobs back, just like in 1950. (At 1950 wages.) It'll be the best thing ever."
    Was that more than 140 characters? I apologize. No, wait, never apologize. If I broke the rules, it was your fault for baiting me. You belong in jail.
    Mad Dog