Economy, Business & Jobs · Politics & Government Poll: Where do you stand on “right-to-work” legislation? Stephanie Curtis March 13, 2012, 2:56 PM Mar 13, 2012 24 My colleague Bob Collins started a poll on News Cut about the “right to work” legislation. Here it is: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee citizens the freedom to decide to join or not join a labor union,& to pay or not pay dues? We’ll be talking about the bill on The Daily Circuit at 9 a.m. tomorrow. On News Cut right now, you can weigh in on whether they should raise the speed limit on 35-E. – Stephanie Curtis, social media host ‹ Older What happens after a nuclear accident Newer › Inmates, higher ed and stopping the recidivism cycle Browse by category Arts & Culture Education Behind the scenes Science Economy, Business & Jobs News & Trends Politics & Government Books Health & Medicine Field Notes Book Lists About the blogger Stephanie Curtis firstname.lastname@example.org • @stephcurtis Stephanie Curtis has produced events, daily news shows, documentaries, conferences and call-ins for MPR News. She also was among the pioneering producers who launched The Current. You can hear her discuss movies every Thursday on The Cube Critics. Gail Olson The amendment language is Orwellian in its duplicity. “Right-to-work” is more accurately called “right-to-starve.” It’s the “right” to substandard wages, the “right” to unsafe working conditions, the “right” to be powerless when facing discrimination, and the “right” to be terminated arbitrarily. Those are “rights” that are nothing but wrong. Jessica Trites Rolle What was largely (not completely – thank you to several callers, writers, and Keesha Gaskins) left out of the discusion on Voter ID at 9 a.m. March 13 is the fact that it is NOT “just a photo ID”, it is a very specific set of requirements for a specific type of identification. Additionally, photo voter ID is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” of Representative Kiffmeyer’s bill(s); there are numerous other requirements, restrictions, costs, and hoops the bill(s) will put in place and no one spends time on these issues. A few other observations: * You CAN get on a plane WITHOUT a current photo voter ID…and you can also use a passport, which I do not see noted as a sole valid document in the Kiffmeyer and companion vills. * Could you imagine there are people who are here illegally or who intend to impersonate who would go in and vote if we implemented the electronic poll book requirements if they knew they would have to smile for the camera? I don’t think so – quite a risk. * How will voting by felons before their voting rights are restored be stopped by the proposed legislation? That would presume that these felons were not only ineligible to vote because their enfranchisement was not yet restored, but that when they voted, they voted as someone else (e.g., false name or impersonation). Do we know that to be true? Not from what I’ve read. Finally, when Hans von Spakovsky and others tout on the wonderful workings of photo voter ID requirements in other states, they neglect to note that these other states include several exeptions, whereas the Minnesota proposals DO NOT INCLUDE SUCH EXCEPTIONS. I am disappointed and dismayed that the focus is on the ID itself and not on the implications and whether the law will fix the fraud that has been shown in MN and other states (primarily felons voting when they should not, not impersonation). We need to discuss the hurdles, the cost, the lack of exceptions, the restrictions, the increased requirements. Please, please, MPR, discuss these important nuances. Jennifer Hernandez I’ve worked as a teacher in a “right-to-work” state — Texas. At least, I assume that’s what it was, because we were not obligated to pay union dues and the weakness of the union there was clearly reflected in our low salaries and in the lack of trust in our professionalism exhibited by the school administration. When I first came to Minnesota, I was taken aback by the thought that I had to pay dues whether or not I joined the union, but I quickly came to understand that it made sense. The improved salaries and working conditions that the union helps us to attain benefit all of us. Do I think the union is perfect? No. But given the choice, I’d much rather teach in a state with a strong union than with a weak union. Better for teachers, better for students. Ben I have a major problem with any group FORCING me to join their organization and pay their dues. However, I have been a part of way too many companies who are willing to in strong-arm or intimidate people away from unions. Unions have a right to be and organize without the company aggressively fighting it, but I have the right not be a part of a Union (or pay ANY fees to a Union). Scooter One of the things that irritates me is why our lawmakers are letting outside groups, like the NRA and the Center for the American Experience, to rewrite our state constitution. Chuck Regardless of the rights or wrongs of this situation, this is something that should be legislated apart from the constitution. So many amendments are being proposed for this fall that it’s hard to keep track of them. By all means, try to pass a bill for your issue of choice, but leave the constitutional amendments for really serious issues. Andrea Cecconi Proponents of this bill have said that this will make Minnesota stronger economically, and will prevent people from being “forced” to pay union dues. Minnesota’s unemployment is among the lowest in the country, and we have the third highest quality of life according to Forbes magazine. We also have the most Fortune 500 companies choosing to make Minnesota home. Where, exactly, is the problem, here? Do we really want to emulate the list of states that make it harder for workers to bargain for a stable economic future? The real deal seems to be politics. Despite it actually being against federal law for unions to use dues for politics (which is currently enforced), politicians continue using this untruthful statement. And it bears pointing out that in the time of Citizens United, when companies can give much larger, unlimited money to politicians, it’s asinine to argue that workers deserve a SMALLER seat at the table. James The fact remains that ALL workers in “Right to Work (for Less)” states have lower average salaries and higher unemployment rates than states like MN. Unions bring up the wages of all workers, not just union members. Aside from lower wages, “Right to work for less” states also have higher rates of violent crime and have lower rates of high school graduation and lower rates of people going on to college after high school. Unions are the last bastion of hope for the middle class…don’t let the propaganda from the right sway your decision. Look at the facts, Right to Work is wrong for everyone. Jason I’ve noticed that it’s always the right-wingers on this show who interrupt, talk over, and sneer at anybody who has different views than them. This guy is no exception. He must think he’s on Fox News or something. Mary i am a union member, as a teacher we are also protected by the union when issues arise in addition to bargaining for benefits,salaries, etc, it feels as though we need to let each person decide for themself if the choose to have a job that is represented by a union, this should not be an addition to our state’s contitution. holly To equate poverty and RTW is ridiculous. First of all, to be required to pay dues means you are already employed – certainly doesn’t increase unemployment. However, by taking away MY freedom to do with my money as I choose, unions would force me to give them MY money to do what they choose. In addition, roughly 7% of all businesses (actually less) in the US are unionized, most of those are government positions. If they were actually effective, don’t you think more private employees would unionize? I believe it’s because they’ve been able to negotiate for themselves and they don’t see the benefit of an antiquated system that lost it’s relevance 30 or more years ago. So much legislation exists to protect workers, unions are all but irrelevant anymore. And if you think a union can get you a higher wage, you’re incorrect. Unions can only get what businesses can give. As an individual, I would rather try to differentiate myself from my coworkers and achieve that higher wage based on my work merits. Having everyone ride on my shoulders to get higher wages for everyone is not fair. Give employees the right to do with their money what they choose – if a union is actually performing a beneficial service, they’ll be happy to pay. Let employees choose, not unions!! A.L.Anderson As a member of the state teachers’ union, we were NOT required to join the union. But by law, the union has the right to “fair share” us as a way to require non-members to pay for the services from the union from which they benefitted, for example bargaining, representation, workshops, etc. My local union did not fair share for many years, but changed that policy because of the costs of contract negotiations and filing grievances. All employees benefitted from the union’s work. Of course there were always people who thought they should benefit without paying! What is $400-$500 in union dues compared to improved benefits and better working conditions??? Ann Anderson As a member of the state teachers’ union I was NEVER forced to join the union. The union, however, was able to “fair share” me and charge a fee for the services they provided for all employees–bargainig, grievance filing, representation, workshops, etc. Of course, there are always people who want the services for free!! Kristine Persson My experience with “fair share” members is that they have never negotiated a contract for themselves nor have they chosen to involve themselves in contract negotiations. They think that management would give them a good deal if no union existed and they are sorely mistaken. kim It’s all about union busting plane and simple, and don’t let anybody tell you different. I am a union member and I like being able to make a living wage and have good healthcare. If people want to go back to the dark ages, then by all means let them go. I for one will be a union member as long as I can. If wages would have kept up with the cost of living, then this probably would not be an issue. When profit margins keep going up and wages for regular employees have been stagnant for a long time it’s the unions that keep this in check. When unions are strong, so goes the wages for EVERYBODY. And I have to take offense to this guy Mark’s attitude. He sounds like a right wing teabagger. Ann Richards I have been a manager in both union and non-union offices. The best management training I was ever given was in the union shops. They held me to a much higher standard as far as employee rights go. When I managed a non-union office, I was constantly reminded to fire at will. Friends of upper management always made more than others, I was not expected to coach to better results. Everyone’s pay goes up when there are union shops in the area. I worked for a non-union company moving to a new city in MN. That city had 3 strong unions in place, our pay was based on the range of the union wages, even though we were not union. Pay was not the issue for the company, a good freeway system and educated work force was the key in re-locating. Forrest Johnson A simple question. How many workers today are represented by a union? I believe less than 10 percent of the total US workforce is covered by union contracts and protections. Why would this legislation be needed for such a minority of workers? It seems to me another effort to quash a minority. It is similar to the legislation that has led to the upcoming constitutional amendment vote on “the protection of marriage” efforts against another minority. I always thought our form of government recognized the notion of majority rule, minority right. Perhaps that is no longer the case. Forrest Johnson Two Harbors Jefferson How can you be against the freedom to choose to be in the union or not? Right now people who choose not to pay for political donations are still forced to pay membership dues (or fees) but lose their right to vote in union elections! That sounds like taxation without representation…one of the fundamental reasons we had our revolutionary war. We need to allow for individuals to opt out completely from unions. Jamie I am furious about the so-called “right-to-work” discussion this morning. Kerri and/or her producers could not have picked a worse debater than that woman. She was often at a loss for words at times that even I, not a good speaker, would have been able to handle. She also allowed the man to spew one lie after another without challenging him. For example, if you are a fair-share union “associate,” or even if you’re a full dues-paying member, you don’t have to have the union represent you in a grievance or any other situation with a boss. He lied about that and several other things. Kerri did not challenge him as much as she challenged her, either. But I’ve heard Kerri sound anti-union in the past, too, so that is not a surprise. And her repeated use of the Republican-created term “right-to-work” also shows her bias. All the anecdotes that people called or Facebook-ed about are isolated instances of people dissatisfied with some aspect/s of their unions. I wonder how they would have felt in non-union jobs with much lower pay, fewer benefits, and fewer protections against bad bosses who can make their life a living hell. Unions are not perfect. I don’t love everything about them, but having unions is so much better than not having them. On the issue of fair-share non-members not getting to vote on contracts and other issues: It is exactly like not getting to vote in a presidential or other election if you’re not a citizen. It is exactly like not getting to vote on issues facing the church down the block that you don’t belong to but which may affect you as their neighbor. It’s like not getting to vote in any organization that you’re not a member of. However, you DO get all the other benefits of a union, and you SHOULD pay the fair-share rate to get those benefits. Jefferson Jamie – [On the issue of fair-share non-members not getting to vote on contracts and other issues: It is exactly like not getting to vote in a presidential or other election if you’re not a citizen. It is exactly like not getting to vote on issues facing the church down the block that you don’t belong to but which may affect you as their neighbor. It’s like not getting to vote in any organization that you’re not a member of. However, you DO get all the other benefits of a union, and you SHOULD pay the fair-share rate to get those benefits. ] *** I can’t believe you are actually arguing for taxation without representation. To me it sounds like you want the individual who chooses not to donate to a political campaign to become a second class person…yet you want them to pay for the union infrastructure. If you want to be intellectually honest you can’t have it both ways, either the person pays for the union and gets voting rights or the individual doesn’t pay any union dues (or fees) and gets no voting rights. That is a complete violation of individual rights to force them to pay for a union and not allow them to have some sort of say in the union due to their political views. Jamie You’re the one who’s not being “intellectually honest,” Jefferson. Fair-share fees are fees for services you get from the union: collective bargaining, better pay, better benefits, more protection against unscrupulous bosses, for some examples. They’re not for membership, and they’re not about your political views. If you’re not a MEMBER of an organization, you don’t get a vote in the matters of that organization. Yes, you’re forced to pay the fair-share fee for those services, but if you don’t want better pay, better benefits, and more protection against unscrupulous bosses, get a different (non-union) job. You’re forced to pay for electricity at home. You get something for what you’re paying, but you don’t get a vote in how that utility operates. And if you don’t want to pay for electricity, go off the grid and get a generator or something. I’m guessing you’re a Republican or something LIKE a Republican (e.g., Libertarian). Don’t Republicans hate freeloaders? Why do they think it’s not ok for needy people to get services, food support, etc. from the government, but it’s ok for non-members of a union ‘shop’ to freeload off the other union members? You don’t seem to understand that without a union, that shop wouldn’t have pay and benefits and protection that are as good as what they have WITH the union Jefferson Jamie – [You’re the one who’s not being “intellectually honest,” Jefferson. Fair-share fees are fees for services you get from the union: collective bargaining, better pay, better benefits, more protection against unscrupulous bosses, for some examples. They’re not for membership, and they’re not about your political views. If you’re not a MEMBER of an organization, you don’t get a vote in the matters of that organization. Yes, you’re forced to pay the fair-share fee for those services, but if you don’t want better pay, better benefits, and more protection against unscrupulous bosses, get a different (non-union) job. You’re forced to pay for electricity at home. You get something for what you’re paying, but you don’t get a vote in how that utility operates. And if you don’t want to pay for electricity, go off the grid and get a generator or something.] *** Haha, yet you are the one who won’t let the individual get off the grid! Let individuals negotiate directly with a business/government for benefits and pay, if the union is worth it then fine let them join. You cannot force someone to pay MEMBERSHIP fees and then because they don’t want to donate to a political party you take away the ability to vote, how can you not see how wrong that is? That person is paying for an institution, you can’t deny that, they just aren’t paying political donations…they should have the same rights as anyone else who pays for that institution. This isn’t like electricity…it’s more like taxes and voting or owning stock and voting…I really hope you can come up with some better examples next time that was a very weak try this round. Jamie //”You cannot force someone to pay MEMBERSHIP fees and then because they don’t want to donate to a political party you take away the ability to vote…”// You keep saying that, but the statement is full of non-truths: Fair-share fees are not “membership fees.” You pay membership DUES if you’re a MEMBER. If you don’t want to be a member, you have to at least pay for the services you get from the union. And it’s not because you want your money to be kept away from political donations that you can’t vote. It’s because YOU’RE NOT A MEMBER. It’s the MEMBERS in organizations who get to vote. If you ARE a dues-paying member of a union, but you don’t want any of your dues to go to political activities or donations, you can tell the union that, and they have to honor that by law. But as a member, you can still vote. If you’re a dues-paying YWCA member, you can enjoy many of their services, classes, and amenities for no additional cost when you go to the Y. If you’re not a member, you can go to the Y, but you have to pay for their services, classes, and amenities – because you’re N O T – A – M E M B E R . Why can’t YOU understand THAT? I noticed you don’t seem have anything to say about the whole FREELOADING thing. Jamie Why can’t I find a way to listen to this broadcast? I missed a few parts of it.