Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Right to Work

What is "right to work"? To me, it is an oxymoron. While Southern states cast themselves as right to work states, they are really saying they are right to servitude states. If look at the states that call themselves right to work states, their per capita incomes are some of the lowest in the country.

They don't allow workers to sign contracts nor do they have protections for workers' safety. They definitely do not want you to join a union. Despite the historical fact that unions were the reason why certain safeguards and industry standards are in place, and that health insurance for employees and equal pay for equal work is even in the public discourse, these right to work states will tell you that this is not necessary and unions are bad for business.

Mississippians are so grateful to find employment in these labor-intensive jobs that they buy into these arguments. That is sad, because Jesus implored us not to sell our soul for earthly gain. We cannot continue to use the arguments of past, such as the unions are communist organizations, or modern day scapegoating of the current financial crisis, to justify denying people the right to organize and receive livable wages to sustain themselves.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a way for workers to protect themselves from abusive, manipulative employers. They can join a union individually without a vote conducted and controlled by their bosses. I witnessed an union election in 2008 in Canton. The employees were told all sorts of things that would be taken away from them if they started a local in their plant, like losing leasing privileges and possibly being laid off. Naturally, these workers were scared enough where the majority needed to unionize failed.

However, if the EFCA was in place, those folks that wanted be in a union could be, and those that did not, would not, yet not infringe on the other workers' ability to join. Sounds simple, right? Well not to the opponents of EFCA. They have made claims that unions would intimidate workers to join and that their right to privacy would be taken away. First point, federal labor laws protect employees from intimidation from any party to join or not to join a union. Second, it would be your right to join, your privacy would not be violated unless you decided to tell someone else you joined the union. Third, the elections for creating a union are not fair, as the aforementioned case illustrates, therefore, a fair election process is not a valid argument.

Let me put it to you this way, say you want to join the NRA, but 65 percent of your neighbors said that you cannot be a member, thus you could not join. Is that fair? Then why is it fair in the place where you earn a living to take care of your family?

It is time for Congress to stop playing games and pass the EFCA. Let's return freedom back into the workplace. Let's respect a person's rights at work, instead of just offering a right to work.