Ask your Local – Please explain what the “Right To Work” legislation means?

Q. Please explain what the “Right To Work” legislation means?

A. Right To Work legislation essentially allows workers to take jobs that offer sub-standard salaries and benefits if they choose to do so and it opens the door to reducing minimum wage through legislation. The main objective is for the companies and workers to be able to compete with 3rd world countries in terms of salaries and benefits because companies are moving their production sites to countries with few (if any) labour laws, health and safety laws and starvation wages. In unionized work environments (such as automobile production facilities), salaries and benefits are negotiated for all employees and the company must pay according to the negotiated collective agreement (work contract).

Union contracts (negotiated contracts) raise the bar for all workers and it is important for someone to be the conscience of the Employer.

Right to Work allows workers to opt out of paying union dues. The legislation sells itself to workers through the idea that they can choose to pay no union dues but receive the benefits of the union contracts. In Canada, the Rand formula has been a key tenet of labour relations since Supreme Court Justice Ivan Rand ruled in the 1940s that workers in unionized workplaces must pay union dues because, whether or not they choose to join, they benefit from its services. If Right to Work legislation is passed in parliament, it is expected that the legal system will allow a successful challenge in Canada because there are essentially no flaws in the earlier decision.

U.S. President Barack Obama, says the laws have the effect of giving workers the right to work for less pay.

Corporations, which seek to increase profits by driving down wages and offering reduced benefits for both union and non-union workers, have fiercely lobbied governments for right- to-work legislation

The legislation immediately appeals to workers who have suffered financial hardship through loss of income/employment because – to them – any job is better than no job and that opinion is understood; however, taking a job with sub-standard salary, no benefits or few benefits and no pension creates another kind of hardship when they or a family member becomes ill or needs dental care (for instance) that isn’t covered by benefit insurance. The worker feels guilty for being unable to provide the money for the medical care and they become bitter, angry and defensive. Those feelings translate into a home atmosphere that is unhealthy.

Workers have a desperate (although often unrecognized) need for someone to have their backs against a greedy mass of corporations who only see the bottom line in terms of profit and have no concept of the financial and community value of an ethical, healthy workforce. The struggle has existed since the monetary system was created and will continue to exist throughout the future – two sides to every story, two sides to every conflict, two sides to the monetary system.

Rotha Lennox,
Local 70713
Union of Environment Workers

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