The Writers Guild of America East has blasted proposed federal legislation that would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.
The new bill, H.R. 744, was introduced this week by Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), would extend “right to work” to all states nationwide.
“One of the strange perennial rituals of Beltway Washington is the introduction of legislation to destroy the only effective voice American workers have on the job,” said WGA East President Michael Winship and Executive Director Lowell Petersson.
“Mislabeled “National Right to Work,” this legislation — introduced yet again by far-right congressmen Steve King (R-Iowa) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) — intends to cut organized labor off at the knees by making it impossible to finance the tough work put in by American unions to represent and protect working people. Strong sturdy unions are essential to organize workplaces, to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements and to do the day-to-day hard work of making sure that workers’ voices are heard when it’s time to make critical decisions about pay, benefits, working conditions and more.”
The so-called “Right to Work” laws exist in 27 states. In states such as California and New York, workers can decided to file for financial core status under which they quit the union and are not obligated to pay for a union’s political work but must pay fees to finance the union’s work from which they benefit.
“This misguided legislation ignores the basic structure of American labor relations, in which all workers in a given company or bargaining unit are represented by the same union and covered by the same collective bargaining agreement with the same right to representation,” Winship and Peterson said.
“The union is obligated to represent everyone, and it makes sense that everyone is therefore obligated to pay their fair share. In other countries, the system is different; in other countries, unions function at the national level and the federal government sits at the bargaining table to force management to agree to terms. In America, our labor relations are based on the idea that everyone benefits from the same union contract.
“Of course, the real agenda in Congress is to weaken the power of hard-working citizens by crushing the American labor movement. There’s a bitter irony here: The far-right claims to support the newly-elected president’s promise to first and foremost use the federal government to advance the interests of the American worker, but with this legislation they aim to wipe out the workers’ most dedicated advocates.
“The best way to advance the interests of the American worker is to use collective bargaining to strengthen the voice of workers on the job. Defunding the entire structure of workers’ voices will only hasten the decline of our standard of living. Shame on Reps. King and Wilson, and all those who sign off on legislation that will purposely harm American workers.”