In 1947, the Taft-Hartley amendments to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act affirmed states’ right to pass Right-to-Work laws. Right-to-Work laws guarantee that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.
The Right to Work principle affirms the right of every American to work for a living without being forced to belong to a union. Compulsory unionism in any form–“union,” “closed,” or “agency” shop–is a contradiction of the Right to Work principle and the fundamental human right the principle represents.
As of January 1, 2006, 22 states have adopted Right-to-Work laws. (In 1995, Indiana adopted a Right-to-Work law only applicable to teachers).
Since 2007, the Democrats have sponsored several bills to completely overturn Iowa’s 60-year-old Right-to-Work law. Their attempts require non-union public and private employees to pay a “fair share” fee to the union. The so-called “fair share” fee can be as much as the full amount of union dues.
This alleged “fair share” fee forces non-union members to pay for the “representation” they get at the bargaining table by the collective bargaining unit. House File 555 violates the principle of Iowa’s right-to-work statutes (20.8 for public employees and 731.4 for private employees) and rewrites the statute to allow the opposite of current law.
Particularly, the most egregious portions of House File 555 are:
- Require non-union employees pay a fee to the certified employee organization (union), by automatic payroll deduction each month (employer is required to make the deduction)
- Provides a process so that a non-union employee may attempt to reduce their fee to something lower than full union dues (essentially, all employees will be forced to pay union dues unless the succeed in challenging the amount and lowering, but not eliminating it)
- Amends the “Contracts to Exclude” portion of the right-to-work law (section 731.3) to force those who refuse to join a union to pay dues as a condition of being able to enter into a contract. (This provision is the complete opposite of the intent of Chapter 731)
- Amends the “Union Dues as Prerequisite to Employment Prohibited” portion of the right-to-work law (section 731.4) to establish the total opposite of the intent of this law and require dues as a precondition to employment
- Establishes new code section 731.4A authorizing “fair share agreements” as a condition of continued employment for non-union employees. Requires non-union employees after 30 days of employment either to become a member of the union or pay the fair share fee.
Even if HF 555 was amended to remove private sector employees, it will still be a direct assault on the state’s Right to Work law. Putting the Right to Work law in the state Constitution would not prevent such attempts in the future, but would certainly make it more difficult for the Democrats and their union allies to gut the law with fair share bills or similar legislation.