Shock and Law: Politicians Push Anti-Worker Bills

Labor’s 2011 political battles don’t end at the Beltway. Anti-union forces are pushing bills and ballot measures to limit workers’ rights and curb union power from Maine to Hawaii.

They’re gunning not just for public employees but for workers across the board. Legislators are debating proposals to ban collective bargaining for public employees, prohibit workers from choosing union representation through card check, and much more. In Missouri a senator even proposed repealing the state’s child labor law.

Download a full-size PDF version of Labor Notes' map "Shock and Law," which tracks the escalating assaults on unions and highlights some of the worst legislators have to offer this season. Clicking on the map below also launches the full PDF.

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Correction: The description of right to work laws in the lower left corner of the graphic is imprecise. Right to work laws do not prohibit unions from negotiating “closed shops.” A closed shop clause is one that requires an employer to hire someone who is already a member of the union. Closed shop clauses are already unlawful everywhere under the National Labor Relations Act, except for specified industries where pre-hire agreements are permitted (construction trades, mostly).

A “union shop” is the phrase commonly used to refer to contractual clauses requiring everyone to join the union within a specified period of time after being hired. However, the Supreme Court ruled that clauses requiring membership cannot be enforced. There is no compulsory union membership in the United States. Union security clauses can require payment of an amount equal to union dues by represented employees who choose not to become union members. They can then put in for a rebate of that portion of their payments that do not go toward representational purposes.

In effect, every “union shop” clause is actually an “agency shop.” That’s what right to work laws prohibit: any union security clause voluntarily agreed to by both the union and the employer that require payment by all represented employees in the bargaining unit (“dues” from union members, and “agency fees” from non-members).