It’s Labor Day, not Union Day

This Labor Day, when most Americans pause to celebrate workers and their contributions to our nation, union bosses will again attempt to hijack the holiday to promote their agenda of coercive power over America’s workers.

Despite the union boss talking points, there is still much to celebrate this Labor Day. Workers coast to coast have made substantial gains for workplace freedom in recent months.

Look no further than the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which protects the First Amendment, constitutional rights of at least five million public sector workers across the country.

Under the Janus decision, argued and won by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, every public employee is now protected from being fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees. This leaves the choice to join or financially support a labor union with the individual workers union officials claim to represent.

In other words, union officials must work for rank-and-file workers to earn their dues, instead of employees paying union bosses simply to keep their job.

While Janus recognizes that the First Amendment makes union payments voluntary for public employees, an increasing number of states have been passing Right to Work laws to ensure that private sector workers have the same freedom of choice when it comes to union membership and dues.

Although the heightened levels of accountability are making union officials nervous, the concept of worker freedom from coercion is widely supported by the public. Poll after poll shows that 8 in 10 Americans oppose forced union dues and affiliation.

Since 2012, five states have seen new Right to Work laws go into effect. Not only do these laws protect workers’ free choice, but the elimination of forced unionism also gives a boost to the state economy.

For example, just days after the start of 2017, Kentucky passed a Right to Work law that went into effect immediately. U.S. Labor Department data show that 43,000 net new people were added to Kentucky’s employment rolls last year.

Compare this to Missouri, where a Big Labor forced-dues funded ballot initiative blocked the state’s Right to Work law from taking effect. From 2016 to 2017, while neighboring Kentucky enjoyed its employment boost, Missouri’s total number of employed people dropped by nearly 3,000.

Right to Work brings clear economic benefits, and the support of most American workers who like the choice it provides. Yet union bosses claim that giving employees the right to choose to support a labor union is anti-worker.

For union officials, political activism takes precedence over the priorities of the rank-and-file far too often. Its multi-billion dollar political machine — fed by union dues — enables Big Labor to wield immense clout in Washington, D.C., and state capitols, even though much of that money is spent on candidates and causes opposed by many workers union officials claim to represent.

For union officials, their privileges pay off. After all, why bother with the hard work of representing employees as long as they are sitting on a forced-dues revenue stream guaranteed by a government-granted special power?

If union membership, representation, and dues payment were strictly voluntary, union officials would have to earn workers’ support, and officials would need to be accountable and responsive to the rank-and-file or else face a loss of revenue. Instead, workers pay billions each year to union bosses simply because they would lose their jobs if they did not.

Perhaps this Labor Day, union officials should take a step back and reexamine how reliant they are on government-granted compulsory powers…and how this causes millions of American workers to view them as out of touch with those they seek to “represent.”

Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. 

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