House bill HR 785 National “Right to Work” or More of Is This What You Want Your Government to Do? (Part 3)
There is no summary for HR 785 National Right to Work act, but it is an anti-union bill. If you support unions, you need to contact your representatives to block this bill.
The act claims “to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.” However, that is a lie. In convoluted references to five other laws, it would do the following.
- Removes the rights of a worker to join unions.
- Splits workers of the company into those who are and are not members in union,
- Eliminates protections of certain unfair labor practices.
- Forbids membership in a union as a requirement of employment.
- Removes unions from determining necessary qualifications in the building and construction industry and from submitting the names of qualified people for those positions.
- Specifically cancels membership of railway workers in railway unions.
Based on history, there would be some obvious effects if this bill passed.
First, it strikes down the rights of labor organizations to prevent unfair labor practices such as discrimination in hiring or continued employment. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. I don’t need to tell any minority or disabled employees what that could mean. In the past, people were refused work due to the color of their skin, the land of their ancestors, and their religion, just to name a few. Quite a few wars have been fought over these reasons. Refer to the US Civil War for one.
Second, it removes the law that stops employers from disciplining or firing employees who join unions. By splitting workers into those who belong to a union and those who do not, this bill would set up a prejudicial system for treatment of employees. That should bother you too.
Third, it attempts to break union authority away from specific occupations. For the last century, the qualifications of many journeyman jobs have been determined by a union; this is common in construction, skilled trades, and manual labor positions. People are given the jobs in order according to a list. This bill would remove that method of finding gainful employment. The effect would lower the wages of people who do the work — work that is often dangerous due to weather or other working conditions — and remove incentives for those people to learn their trade, continue learning new skills, just as it would remove incentives for employers to hire the skilled tradesmen at a living wage. In addition, it could lead to an increase in accidents at construction sites due to untrained workers replacing experienced employees.
The act would remove the requirement of railroad workers to join the railway union. Therefore, they would no longer have a union to make agreements on their behalf, and to resolve or establish working conditions.
Blocking membership in a union as a requirement of employment is a clear attempt to break union power.
Perhaps it is time to remind people of what US unions have done. They did get rid of sweatshops, those were a real thing. Here is a short list of other benefits (of the many that could be listed):
- 5 day work week — and the weekend!
- 8 hour work day
- Occupational safety legislation
- Family and medical leave act
In the past, states have implemented “right to work” legislation, but it is anything but that. Employees in those states tend to have lower wages and less secure employment. On 2/01/2017 it was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for review. Let your representatives know how you feel.
You can read the entire text of the act with links to the associated laws here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/785/text .