Speaking at the National Forum on Wages and Working People the other day, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) added another issue to her platform to entice support from big unions in her bid to be president. Pledging to use her “bully pulpit” and presidential executive power, Harris told the audience she would abolish right-to-work laws to protect “the right that workers have to be able to organize and fight for their rights.”
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Center for American Progress were sponsors of the event and billed the leftist gathering as “an opportunity for thought leaders to go beyond talking points and share concrete plans to rebalance our economy and democracy.”
Harris didn’t share her plans or strategies to reverse the laws in 26 states currently enjoying the freedoms that right-to-work status allows, but she did have a readily digestible set of talking points for attendees and the media to devour:
“Let’s be more specific. It has to be about banning right-to-work laws. That needs to happen. It needs to be about fighting to increase penalties on corporations that stand in the way of organized labor being able to do the work that is about again advocating for American people.”
Right-to-Work States Are Advocates for Labor
In simplistic terms, the 26 states that have incorporated right-to-work laws allow employees to toil away in unionized workplaces without being forced to join the union or pay union dues. It alleviates the long and powerful practice of exclusive representation. As the National Right to Work Committee explains this strong-arm, bullying tactic:
“[Exclusive representation] is the special coercive privilege, given by federal law, that empowers union officials to represent all employees in a company’s bargaining unit. Union officials demand this power, then use it as their excuse to force employees to pay dues for representation they do not want.”
How is this protecting workers’ rights? Well, it’s not, and in a recent decision the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME ruled mandatory public union fees violated the First Amendment. It was a landmark decision upending 40 years of union precedent. Justice Samuel Alito penned the Court’s opinion, stating:
“Designating a union as the employees’ exclusive representative substantially restricts the rights of individual employees. Among other things, this designation means that individual employees may not be represented by any agent other than the designated union; nor may individual employees negotiate directly with their employer.”
What Harris proposes is in direct conflict with protecting the rights of America’s labor force. The presidential contender, however, is close to promising a huge payday in dues and unfettered power to unions in return for their support.
Mob Rule in Play
Harris isn’t alone in courting of union support: Another of her Democratic primary opponents, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who unionized his campaign, has pledged to institute a federal ban on right-to-work states, stating, “We need elected officials and candidates at every level to get serious about speaking out for the trade union movement. This should not be an afterthought.”
Sanders wants to protect “the trade union movement,” a phrase he uses consistently. Employees, however, appear to be an “afterthought.”
And Joe Biden, fresh into the nomination fray, has already sewn up the coveted support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, bestowed by the union’s executive leadership.
Advocating for freedom within America’s labor force is the basis of the right-to-work movement. Proponents aren’t attempting to abolish union representation; rather, they want to level the playing field. Right-to-work states lay the power of decision-making in the hands of the people. And as we have witnessed, the power of the people horrifies every single leftist politician.
In this nation, people who want to work shouldn’t be denied a job for the egregious decision of declining to join a union. If Democrats want to protect American workers, they should advocate for freedom, not for mob rule.
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