Buoyed by the election which provided Republican majorities in both the Assembly (+27 majority) and the Senate (+5 majority), conservative anti-worker/anti-union legislators have announced that they will introduce Right to Work legislation when the January session begins. Right to Work laws limit collective bargaining, make it easier to outsource jobs and cut wages and benefits. Their plan was to do this in 2012, but legislators were worried that it was too soon after the 2011 protests against Act 10, and would cause public backlash. On average, workers in Right to Work states earn $7,030 a year less, according to the Congressional Research Service (6/20/12), and the rate of workplace deaths is 52.9% higher. Workers in Right to Work states are even more likely to be uninsured (16.8%, compared with 13.1% overall).
Governor Walker’s Act 10 has already done great damage to Wisconsin’s public sector workers and the economy. Act 10 has been described as “Right to Work on Steroids.” But now, the far-right is coming after the 13% of Wisconsin’s private sector workers who have the benefit of union representation. And it is because CEOs and company owners care more about big business and profits than they do about workers who create them. And, middle class families become struggling families. Right to Work will surely shrink the middle class.
Despite its misleading name, such a law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing, i.e. it provides NO “right to work”.
Rather, a Right to Work law prohibits employers and employees from negotiating an agreement – also known as a union security clause – that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of the Union in representing them. A Right to Work law mandates that unions represent every employee, whether or not he or she pays Union dues. In other words, such laws enable workers to pay nothing and still get the benefits of union membership. Imagine if a Madison resident, who sends their children to MMSD schools, but can opt out of paying property taxes to finance the schools.