With Indiana becoming the first Rust Belt state to take the position that workers shouldn’t be forced to tithe to unions in order to hold a job, one might think that other states might get a clue and consider their own workers and their rights. Minnesota’s Republican legislature has actually been trying to get a similar law passed, but DFL Governor Mark Dayton has adamantly refused to consider it. Instead, the legislature will put a right-to-work constitutional amendment on the ballot and bypass Dayton, taking the issue directly to the voters.
Dayton calls this … wait for it … “extreme.” He also went to rather extreme lengths to make his point:
On Thursday, Republicans in the House and Senate introduced the “right to work” concept as a constitutional amendment, which would get around Dayton’s veto pen and take the issue directly to voters. “Right to work” states that employees cannot be required to be union members as a condition of employment, and allows workers to opt out of union membership. Supporters also refer to the amendment as “employee freedom.”
“Who is extreme? Who’s extreme?” Dayton asked the group. “Right to work, come on folks. We’ve had Republican legislatures and Republican governors and nobody’s every run that one up to try to get a constitutional amendment….
“Employee freedom? Freedom to work for substandard wages? Look at the states that have right to work and compare their salary wage levels with states that don’t. The states that don’t have higher standards of living for their people. Better education systems. Better opportunity for people to at least negotiate for decent wages and retirement benefits and health care and the like.”
Huh? Does a state’s standard of living have any kind of relation to forced dues payments? The bill doesn’t forbid people from negotiating for “decent wages,” or even to form and join unions, if they so choose. It would eliminate the forced deduction of dues payments as a condition of keeping a job for those who want to exercise their right of free association to stay out of the unions. And while Minnesota has a pretty decent mean annual income of $45,470 as of May 2010, according to the BLS, the state of Virginia — a right-to-work state — does better at $47,840. And while 15.1% of Minnesota workers are unionized — which means that they give back a good chunk of those earnings to the union bosses — only 5.6% of Virginia workers choose to belong to a union.
You know what’s really extreme? Trying to force babysitters and day-care workers to join a union so that Big Labor can force them to pay dues. Now who would be so extreme as to do that? Oh, yeah …