Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced that he will sign what is called “right to work” legislation. To be clear, this legislation enables workers at union work places to opt out of union membership and dues. Under this law, some workers will be able to benefit from union negotiation without paying dues. Eventually, no one will want to pay dues, unions will disappear, and workers will be left on their own to take what management will give them. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) cheered the law saying: "The public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state's economy can no longer be ignored."
In reality, as union membership has fallen in the U.S., so have wages. Take a minute and review the chart in this article from Huffington Post. From 1968 to the present, middle class income and union membership has declined at almost the same pace. I could call that many things. It is not freedom.
P.S. Daily Kos's great labor writer Laura Clawson gives her take on the parallel decline of unions and wages while also critiquing Nicholas Kristof for being late to the the party.
As reported in Daily Kos, camera-loving senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has introduced a national right to work [for less] bill. The real purpose of this bill, like the ones passed at the state level, is to gut unions. Paul claims that closed shop rules hurt workers' freedom by making them pay dues to unions that negotiate their contracts and protect their rights. However, isn't any individual free to work in any non-union [lower paid] position she wishes? Paul says every worker deserves “freedom of association” by which he means freedom not to join a union. His concern is not the individual, unless that person is a CEO of a large corporation.
The real problem is that Paul and other servants of corporate wealth have worked for decades to gut the “freedom of association” that enables workers join in a union. Laws have been passed that make organizing more and more difficult. Large corporations and small companies intimidate organizers and pay off other workers to bash unions. The corporate megaphones of conservative talk radio and Fox News have turned “union” into a dirty word for many American who can’t think critically and are ignorant of history.
When union membership was highest, so were wages of the working and middle classes. As union membership has fallen over the last three decades, so have wages. Maybe Senator Paul has confused poverty with freedom. The American people need to wake up and stop listening to lies that only serve to make the rich richer.