Working in a right-to-work state
Almost half of states in the United States today are right to work states. ‘Right to work’ is a statute or law that prohibits union security agreements between labor unions and employers. These laws govern the extent to which an established union cannot require an employee’s membership, payment of union dues or fees as a condition of employment either before or after hiring.
The Taft-Hartley Act created a law for this provision. It supersedes, but continues most of the provisions of the NLRB (National Labor Relation Board). In addition, it provides for an 80-day injunction against strikes that endanger public health and safety, and bans closed shops, secondary boycotts, jurisdictional strikes and certain other union practices. Since 2000, four states have become a ‘Right to work’ state.
These laws represent challenges for unions to promote the welfare of their members and workers in general. Some of our bus locals operate under these laws, which can make our work more difficult, but not impossible.
Organizing and representing our current and new membership is a common goal that we all can share in our locals. We should organize on a regular basis. As an officer, organizing can be an asset to the local’s membership. Keeping organizing at the forefront of membership makes everyone a part of the team.
Representation is critical. Let’s know our agreement and be prompt with answers to membership questions. As members, let’s talk about the importance of your union, (what it provides, working conditions, safety and what it has done for you). Be involved by attending union meetings and union functions that the locals may have. Encourage your brothers and sisters to attend as well. And most importantly, ask questions.
Some locals have adopted new-employee orientations. This gives employees a first-hand opportunity to meet their local representatives and for them to interpret the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Additionally, it gives representatives an opportunity to explain how the union works in an employee’s best interest.
Together, we are powerful with greater and engaged membership!