Another attempt to attack the
rights of workers and unions in the South has failed.
Alabama lawmakers have rejected
a measure that would put the state’s right to work law in the state
constitution. Alabama has had a right to
work law since 1953. Our opponents pushed the bill in the name of economic
development and recruitment.
However, we know right to work
is intended to weaken unions and stops workers from having a strong voice to
bargain over wages and benefits. Our
opponents have been introducing right to work laws in statehouses across the
country. The principle is the same - to
destroy the rights of workers - but the
tactics have varied with various degrees of success. In Kentucky, labor won a
challenge after a federal judge invalidated a right to work ordinance in a
local municipality. In Virginia, members of the state House and Senate passed a
resolution that would give voters an opportunity to vote if right to work
should be enshrined in the Virginia constitution. Right to work will take
effect in West Virginia in May, making it
the 26th state, joining Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin,
to enact the law in the past four years. A push is also being made in Pennsylvania to pass a right to
Right to Work and other anti-union laws have been pushed by
the likes of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and lawmakers have introduced bills in
statehouses verbatim in attempts to chip away at collective bargaining.
But most importantly the laws devastate workers and only
benefit big business.
Workers in states with right to
work make $1,540 a year less, when all other factors are removed, than workers
in other states. The median weekly earning of the nation’s 107.9 million
full-time wage and salary workers was $790 in the third quarter of 2014,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, workers in states with
right to work laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with
13.1 percent overall).
The IAFF will keep an eye on what’s happening in the
statehouses and provide updates as necessary.