On January 31 Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced his National Right-to-Work Act, S.204, subtitled “A bill to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.” His timing couldn't be any better.
One year earlier, Indiana joined the growing list of right to work (RTW) states, followed in December by heavily-unionized Michigan. That means that forced unionism is still legal in 26 states, but that number is dwindling.
Properly defined, RTW laws are still government intervention into what used to be private matters between employers and employees, but they have the saving grace of lifting the most onerous parts of labor union agreements which demand either the complete exclusion of non-union workers from being employed by a union shop or requiring any non-union workers to support the union with their dues anyway. In his announcement, Paul stated:
Every American worker deserves the right to freedom of association — and I am concerned that the 26 states that allow forced union membership and dues infringes on these workers’ rights.
Right to work laws ensure that all Americans are given the choice to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union as a condition for employment.
Nearly 80 percent of all Americans support these principles and so I have introduced a national Right to Work Act that will require all states to give their workers the freedom to choose.
Paul’s bill says nothing about collective bargaining, but if passed it will weaken unions’ present limitations on workers’ freedom to stay out of a union if they wish.
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Photo of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.): AP Images