Saturday, April 16, 2016

244.1 - Good News: Wisconsin "right-to-work" law struck down

Good News: Wisconsin "right-to-work" law struck down

Okay, as always or at least whenever possible, we start with some good news.

Despite their name, right-to-work laws have nothing to do with having a right to work, that is, a right to a job sufficient to provide for you and, if you have one, your family.

Instead, they are state laws - or in some cases state constitutional amendments - that declare that unions cannot require people working at unionized workplaces to join the union or pay dues or pay some sort of fee to the union, but that at the same time those unions are required to have all such free-riders covered by the benefits in the union contract. That is, they have to represent them for free. Such laws or constitutional provisions exist in 26 states and are widely and quite correctly seen as intended to weaken and where possible undermine unions so we can go back to the good old days of the nineteen-teens.

Right wingers defend right-to-work on the grounds that, quoting one, "No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment." But what they're really saying, then, is that those people should be able to have the higher pay that union contracts bring, they should have the better working conditions, the paid vacation time, the paid sick time, all the benefits of unions, without having to do anything for them - they should, that is, be collecting free stuff. Which in a slightly different context, would have these same right-wingers calling them lazy welfare cheats.

Gov. Scott WalkAllOverYou
Anyway, getting to the news, when he came into office, Wisconsin governor Scott WalkAllOverYou insisted that he had no interest in establishing a right-to-work law in Wisconsin. He was lying, of course, and in March 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state.

The law was challenged and the good news is that on April 8 it was struck down as violating the Wisconsin state constitution, being a seizure of union property without compensation since now, unlike before, they must extend benefits to workers who don't pay dues.

The down side is that this was a County Circuit court decision, subject to appeal and with Walker by some I have to admit clever politics having pretty much packed the state supreme court with cronies, the future is not bright.

But for now, I will still call it good news, a win for the rights of labor and working men and women, that has pushed the foul and welfare-for-the-rich issue of right-to-work laws back into the public debate.

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