‘Right to work’ amendment is not supported
By: Mike Kuitu, President, Carlton County Central Labor Body, Pine Journal
To the Editor:
As the state legislative session winds down, Minnesota workers hold their breath waiting to see if truth and justice will prevail over ignorance and greed.
A proposed, “Right to work for less” (RTW) amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is supported by a majority of GOP legislators. This amendment would allow free loaders to demand a union represent them in negotiations without them being obligated to pay dues to that union. For the moment, all of the DFL legislators and a handful of the Republicans oppose this amendment, enough to keep it from proceeding. If a constitutional amendment passes the legislature, the Governor cannot veto it, and it goes directly to the people to be voted upon.
If this amendment proceeds, it will weaken the ability of unions to advocate for its members and for the greater society. It will lead to all Minnesota workers receiving an average of $5,000 a year less in wages, lower quality healthcare , and smaller pensions. In states that currently have similar laws, workplace fatality rates are 51 percent higher, and there are lower percentages of high school and college graduations. That is the reality. As one might suspect, this RTW legislation is concocted by national think tanks that represent the wealthiest 1 percent, and is promoted through some of the corporate media. In response to this, 1,600 labor activists, including a couple dozen from Carlton County, voiced their opposition to this amendment on March 12 at the Minnesota Capitol. Labor takes this threat very seriously.
Remarkably, here in Carlton County, and across the Northland, a good number of our small businesses say they are against this union-busting amendment. They recognize that their best avenue to prosperity is a well-paid customer; that their own lives are enriched, when the whole community prospers. One local business owner even repeated the old aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats.” So let’s support those local small businesses that support a living wage, and just hope that everything stays cool, because warm and fuzzy platitudes will be of little use if we let the evil “right to work” genie out of the bottle.
Mike Kuitu, President
Carlton County Central Labor Body