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senate Bill S. 545

Should Workers be Able to Opt Out of Unions?

Argument in favor

People shouldn’t have to choose between joining a union or not being able to work at a job they were offered. Unions spend too much money on political activism, and forcing a worker to fund activities they don’t agree with through dues is unethical.

Janene's Opinion
···
05/31/2017
employees should not be forced to join any organization or union.
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05/31/2017
Of course participation in a union should be voluntary. Set aside for a moment any discussion of whether or not unions are good, because that is of secondary concern. The first question, and in fact the question on the table, is "Can the government force people to join or pay for groups, even if it is against their will?" (which is sort of the inverse of the question asked by this legislation). Well no, the government obviously has no justifiable claim on that job. The position does not belong to the government, nor does it belong to the union (the only "union job" is a position working for the union itself). The job is a voluntary agreement between the employer and employee. Therefore the government has no authority to mandate what it must look like. They are not a party to that agreement. It is completely out of bounds for them to assume they have any role to play in mandating the private groups that an individual must be a member of in order to qualify for a particular private employment position. So a no to that means a yes to this bill. NOW THEN, for all you lot concerned about organizations getting their money into politics, let's hear you justify the quid pro quo of unions making huge donations to political campaigns (especially, let's be honest, those on the left), and then the left defending the government's ability to force people to join unions and to require them to pay union dues. Do you think it is at all possible that there might be some sort of unethical collusion at work in that scheme? Doesn't that sound to you exactly like the type of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" arrangement that the left is quick to call out (and rightly so) when it is any other private organization getting their money involved in influencing politics? Be careful not to be hypocrites! Or consider this: unions are simply formalized price collusion organizations. For all the concerns over and legislation and government bodies preventing companies getting together and agreeing not to sell their services below particular prices as a way of being anticompetitive, you sure don't seem to mind unions doing exactly the same thing with the employment markets! "Hey let's all get together and agree not to sell our labor for less than a certain price so that we can all make more" is no different than "Hey let's all agree to charge customers at least this much so that we can all make more." Unions are government-protected monopolies, and they produce the same anticompetitive inefficiencies as any other government-protected monopoly. Get the government out of the way and instead allow competition. Instead of unions, the best way to protect workers is to encourage the flourishing of competition between businesses (i.e., encouraging the opening of new businesses by reducing the government-imposed barriers to entry into markets). That way businesses need to compete to attract the best employees by offering better pay or more benefits or better working conditions, etc. Unions are unnecessary, and requiring participation in them is downright immoral. So yes, the government should not require participation in unions.
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M j's Opinion
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03/26/2017
Absolutely, in a free country employees should not be forced to join any organization they do not want to join.
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Argument opposed

Prospective employees already have a choice -- take the job and join a union or find work elsewhere. States with right-to-work laws tend to have lower wages than states without them, so why would we want this on the federal level?

IllWill's Opinion
···
05/31/2017
This is just another way to attack the power of unions. If you're trying to get a job in a unionized workplace and you choose not to pay union dues, you're still going to benefit from the collective bargaining activities of that union. If unions begin to lose their revenue from dues, it reduces their ability to do their job of negotiating better wages and benefits for workers and eventually the union collapses. This is a trick. Right-to-work laws should be renamed right-to-work-for-less.
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Christine's Opinion
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05/31/2017
This is a union buster. Strong unions protect workers! If you don't want to pay union dues do not take a union job!
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VanZant's Opinion
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05/31/2017
Unions are what this country have been built on. Without the early sacrifices of Labor Unions many would not have a regular work week, insurance for employees and their families, not to mention paid vacations and sick/personal days. Where as there are forms of complicity in some Unions, one does not represent the masses. Employees may have a right to opt out, but does it give them right to continued Union representation, well it shouldn't. People do have a right to choose and that should always be given. When major companies can outsource their jobs and when elected officials can co-sign on just that very thing it hurts the American Work Force in all aspects. The right to opt out is solely a choice of the person, but when doing so, release them from all benefits of representation that a Union provides. Right to Work is wrong when it is aimed at workers trying to make a living.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    IntroducedMarch 7th, 2017

What is Senate Bill S. 545?

This bill amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal provisions that allow employers to require employees to join a union in order to get or keep a job.

Provisions that allow railroad carriers to require the payroll deduction of union dues or fees as a condition of employment would also be repealed.

Basically, this bill would allow individuals to decide if they want to join a union when they get offered a job, and if they do — they can choose whether want to have their union dues deducted automatically from their paycheck.

Impact

Workers who would’ve had to either join a union or look for work elsewhere, unions, state governments, federal governments.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 545

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Right-to-work laws have been around since the 1940s and 1950s, and historically it has been the choice of a state whether they’d allow employers to require union membership for workers. There are 25 states plus Guam that have right-to-work laws, and three of these states — Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin — have enacted right-to-work laws since 2012.

Technically, unions can only collect dues from workers for collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance procedures — and these so-called ‘forced dues’ make up about 25 percent of what a union spends its dues on. While this omits activities such as political spending, lobbying, and union organizing, many employees feel they are obligated to pay full dues because of the wording “membership in good standing” that unions employers use in their contracts.

Unions have seen their political clout decrease as their membership has declined from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11.3 percent in 2012. But what hasn’t changed is that unions still spend big-time money when elections come around, in 2008 they spent nearly $76 million, and in both 2012 and 2014 they spent about $140 million. And nearly all of this spending goes towards one party, as 91 percent of unions’ 2012 political spending aided Democrats.

In countering efforts to expand the presence of right-to-work laws, unions like the AFL-CIO have pointed out that workers in states with right-to-work laws generally earn less money than their counterparts in states without such laws.

A study done by the Economic Policy Institute corroborates the AFL-CIO’s claims about lower wages in right-to-work states, but they also have lower unemployment rates and lower cost of living than their non-right-to-work counterparts.


Media:


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user JD Hancock)

AKA

National Right-to-Work Act

Official Title

A bill to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.

    employees should not be forced to join any organization or union.
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    This is just another way to attack the power of unions. If you're trying to get a job in a unionized workplace and you choose not to pay union dues, you're still going to benefit from the collective bargaining activities of that union. If unions begin to lose their revenue from dues, it reduces their ability to do their job of negotiating better wages and benefits for workers and eventually the union collapses. This is a trick. Right-to-work laws should be renamed right-to-work-for-less.
    Like (101)
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    This is a union buster. Strong unions protect workers! If you don't want to pay union dues do not take a union job!
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    Unions are what this country have been built on. Without the early sacrifices of Labor Unions many would not have a regular work week, insurance for employees and their families, not to mention paid vacations and sick/personal days. Where as there are forms of complicity in some Unions, one does not represent the masses. Employees may have a right to opt out, but does it give them right to continued Union representation, well it shouldn't. People do have a right to choose and that should always be given. When major companies can outsource their jobs and when elected officials can co-sign on just that very thing it hurts the American Work Force in all aspects. The right to opt out is solely a choice of the person, but when doing so, release them from all benefits of representation that a Union provides. Right to Work is wrong when it is aimed at workers trying to make a living.
    Like (60)
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    Unions are necessary. How else do you get management to play fair?
    Like (34)
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    This is an obvious attack on unions once again. If you don't want to join a union, by all means.... don't. But don't expect to get the same representation that us who pay dues get. That would be a form of entitlement. "I want what he's got.... but I don't want to pay for it". That's crap. Unions, if managed properly, can be (and has been for me) a fantastic way to work. Great benefits, retirement, proper training, safety, and representation. Just cause Faux news says unions are bad... do your homework. Sure there's bad ones out there. There are still a handful of bad seeds in the unions. Such as on the other side of the fence as well.
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    I believe that the basic premise of unions is one for all and all for one. But, if some don't want to participate, then they should not participate in the benefits of union representation including wages, benefits and other perks.
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    Of course participation in a union should be voluntary. Set aside for a moment any discussion of whether or not unions are good, because that is of secondary concern. The first question, and in fact the question on the table, is "Can the government force people to join or pay for groups, even if it is against their will?" (which is sort of the inverse of the question asked by this legislation). Well no, the government obviously has no justifiable claim on that job. The position does not belong to the government, nor does it belong to the union (the only "union job" is a position working for the union itself). The job is a voluntary agreement between the employer and employee. Therefore the government has no authority to mandate what it must look like. They are not a party to that agreement. It is completely out of bounds for them to assume they have any role to play in mandating the private groups that an individual must be a member of in order to qualify for a particular private employment position. So a no to that means a yes to this bill. NOW THEN, for all you lot concerned about organizations getting their money into politics, let's hear you justify the quid pro quo of unions making huge donations to political campaigns (especially, let's be honest, those on the left), and then the left defending the government's ability to force people to join unions and to require them to pay union dues. Do you think it is at all possible that there might be some sort of unethical collusion at work in that scheme? Doesn't that sound to you exactly like the type of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" arrangement that the left is quick to call out (and rightly so) when it is any other private organization getting their money involved in influencing politics? Be careful not to be hypocrites! Or consider this: unions are simply formalized price collusion organizations. For all the concerns over and legislation and government bodies preventing companies getting together and agreeing not to sell their services below particular prices as a way of being anticompetitive, you sure don't seem to mind unions doing exactly the same thing with the employment markets! "Hey let's all get together and agree not to sell our labor for less than a certain price so that we can all make more" is no different than "Hey let's all agree to charge customers at least this much so that we can all make more." Unions are government-protected monopolies, and they produce the same anticompetitive inefficiencies as any other government-protected monopoly. Get the government out of the way and instead allow competition. Instead of unions, the best way to protect workers is to encourage the flourishing of competition between businesses (i.e., encouraging the opening of new businesses by reducing the government-imposed barriers to entry into markets). That way businesses need to compete to attract the best employees by offering better pay or more benefits or better working conditions, etc. Unions are unnecessary, and requiring participation in them is downright immoral. So yes, the government should not require participation in unions.
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    If you are allowed to opt out of joining a union in a union shop, then the employer should be given the ability to opt out of giving you the benefits the union bargained for over the years.
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    Absolutely, in a free country employees should not be forced to join any organization they do not want to join.
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    Workers should have a right to do as they please but govt "right to work" regulations have shown themselves to be tools to destroy the ability of workers to collectively bargain with their employers.
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    If you benefit from the collective bargaining of the union, you should pay for that service. Want the ability to opt out? Then you shouldn't be covered by the contract that the union negotiated. Period. You can't have it both ways👏🏻
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    Labor unions wield too much power, at least they do in my home State of Pennsylvania. There is a crisis in Pennsylvania right now where the union that is largely involved with the Unemployment Insurance Agency (Department of Labor and Industry) is making it worse. There is a massive shortage of call center workers and case managers due to budget cuts and the supervisors and employees who aren't a part of the union aren't ALLOWED to help with the work load. It's absolutely ludicrous. Also, I've seen what the teachers unions can do to a school district when they go on strike over petty issues (such as paying a slight amount more for health insurance or increasing their class size from 18-21 students) and it's terrible for our children. Allow employees to choose how involved they are with a union or if they want anything to do with them at all. This is a great bill.
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    If you're concerned about unions spending money in politics to help their members, how about we make sure corporations can't spend money on politics?
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    Not just yes but hell yes.
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    So-called "right to work" states decrease the power of the employees. All employees should be dues paying members in the union so the union has more bargaining power to represent workers' rights and needs.
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    Required to join two unions early in my work life, you go with the flow. Forced to pay dues to a union that donated to their choice of politicians, held "events" for their gain, created parallel power structures out of networking, really bothered me. Truth is I was intimidated to slow down as a summer helper so as the full timers wouldn't look bad. What is that? I believe our goal as employees is to provide value beyond our cost. Why would an employer want to rid itself of contributors?
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    What this does give them the benefits won by unions without paying dues.
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    Rand Paul doesn't like that 91% of unions back the Democratic Party. Boohoo. Who do corporations usually back, esp those that ship jobs overseas? Republicans. This is just another form of Republican gerrymandering at the job site.
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    These so-called "right to work" states have lowered worker's wages, cut benefits, devastated bargaining power and hurt the middle and lower class working people of America. The ONLY people who benefit from the misnamed "right to work" laws are wealthy employers and GOP politicians who are paid to lobby on their behalf. This is another attack on working Americans.
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