A perennial threat to organized labor and the American middle class is once again making an appearance in state legislatures throughout the United States.
Our elected officials at the state level have taken it upon themselves to consider anti-union legislation called “Right To Work” or “Freedom To Work.” While this phrase is crafted to appeal to the most patriotic among us, the fact of the matter is that these proposed laws would severely undermine the rights that workers have on the job. “Right To Work” laws eliminate the workers’ financial obligation (dues) to a labor organization, forcing unions to perform their services for free toward the goal of eventually bankrupting the union. A bankrupt union would not be able to defend the true rights workers have.
We as railroaders enjoy decent pay, benefits, safety, retirement, and certainly have a sense of dignity and pride in what we do. These above mentioned benefits aren’t “rights” given to us by gracious corporate benefactors; rather, they are benefits that have been provided to us by the BLET through more than 150 years of negotiating and fighting with the business elite.
It has been documented across the country that these “Right To Work” laws are certainly not beneficial to the blue-collar worker. Some of the negative effects of such legislation can be seen in the following:
• It creates a situation where unions are legally required by federal law to represent all workers including those who do not contribute their fair share of the cost of that representation.
• It is meant to eliminate or at least stifle the voices of the workers by cutting off essential funding to our unions.
• Right To Work deteriorates our communities’ quality-of-life:
• Workers in Right To Work states make an average of $5,500 less than workers in worker friendly states.
• With less disposable income workers in our communities will spend less and the economic impact on our state could be disastrous.
• Fewer people have health care in Right To Work states (higher burden on taxpayers).
• The poverty rate is higher in Right To Work states (higher burden on taxpayers).
• Right To Work will bring substantial increases in Medicaid (higher burden on taxpayers).
The BLET National Mobilization Team is asking members to be prepared to take action regarding “Right To Work” by reading this News Flash and familiarizing themselves with the potentially devastating aspects of these laws.
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