Right-to-Work Gang Still After Your Jobs, Wages, & Conditions
By STEVE VAIRMA PRESIDENT JOINT COUNCIL 3
The National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) is hell bent on destroying your union wages, hours and working conditions.
If you thought the huge loss in 2008 of a right-to-work ballot initiative in Colorado would discourage the union busting right-to-work gang, think again. Right-to-work proponents pursue their goal with the same fervor with which billionaires seek to protect their Bush tax cuts.
Anti-labor zealots have been peddling the right-to-work myth for many years in Missouri, which has been one of their targets ever since they lost a referendum on the issue there in 1978.
Rumors are circulating that NRTWC will support right-to-work campaigns in two or three other states, either through the passage of laws in state legislatures or by the initiative process. In Joint Council 3, Montana is listed as a possible target. Indiana is also thought to be under consideration by the right to work gang.
The devastating recession we are enduring encourages those who are determined to make the United States a right-to-work nation, one state at a time. During hard economic times, employers seek ways to lower wages, pay less in employee benefits and reduce the expenses of safety and health in the workplace. Right-to-work is an effective way for employers to attain these “benefits” with no recourse available to working men and women.
Four of the states in Teamsters Joint Council 3 are right- to-work states—Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming—and our local unions in those states do a tremendous job of representing their members under extremely difficult conditions. Their job presents challenges that are not familiar to union leaders and staffs in free bargaining states.
Colorado is the only one of the three free bargaining states that has twice defeated a statewide referendum on right-to-work, in 1958 and in 2008. All three states have defeated right-to work in their state legislatures on several occasions.
Both Colorado and New Mexico probably have enough support in their respective state legislatures this year to defeat right-to-work legislation, and Montana’s governor could be expected to veto such a bill if it were passed. However, legislation to put the issue on the ballot in 2012 could be passed in Montana and could not be vetoed by the governor.
Rest assured. All of the states within Teamsters Joint Council 3 are solidly opposed to the imposition of any further right-to-work laws in any of the free bargaining states within its boundaries.
When the right-to-work gang sponsored its initiative in Colorado in 2008, it woke a sleeping dog. And, after the overwhelming defeat of the initiative at the polls, that dog’s teeth are still bared, he’s snarling and growling and spoiling for another fight.
Following is a chart, compiled by the AFL-CIO using government statistics, which shows the union advantage, the target of right-to-work proponents:
Union Advantage by the Numbers
Union workers earn higher wages and get more benefits than workers who don't have a voice on the job with a union.
Union workers' median weekly earnings $ 908
Nonunion workers' median weekly earnings $ 710
Union wage advantage 28%
Union women's median weekly earnings $ 840
Nonunion women's median weekly earnings $ 628
Union wage advantage for women 34%
African American union workers' median weekly earnings $ 749
African American nonunion workers' median weekly earnings $ 581
Union wage advantage for African Americans 29%
Latino union workers' median weekly earnings $ 774
Latino nonunion workers' median weekly earnings $ 516
Union wage advantage for Latinos 50%
Asian American union workers' median weekly earnings $ 907
Asian American nonunion workers' median weekly earnings $ 870
Union wage advantage for Asian Americans 4%
Union workers covered by employer-provided health insurance 78%
Nonunion workers covered by employer-provided health insurance 51%
Union health insurance advantage 53%
Union workers without health insurance coverage 2.9%
Nonunion workers without health insurance coverage 14.2%
Nonunion workers are four times more likely to lack health insurance coverage
Union workers covered by guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions 77%
Nonunion workers covered by guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions 20%
Union pension advantage 285%
Union workers with short-term disability benefits 46%
Nonunion workers with short-term disability benefits 34%
Union short-term disability benefits advantage 35%
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Union Members-2009. Jan. 22, 2010; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employee Benefits in the United States, March
2009, September 2009, Employee Benefit Research Institute. EBRI Notes, October 2009