Bill to outlaw union shop agreements introduced in House

CLEVELAND, April 9 -- On March 20, 2001, a group of conservative members of the House of Representatives, led by Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, introduced a "National Right-to-Work" bill.

The bill, H.R. 1109, would "preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities." The bill seeks to amend both the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act.

According to the AFL-CIO, so-called "right to work" laws don't guarantee any new rights or create any new jobs or economic benefits. In fact, by denying workers and employers the right to negotiate union security clauses, these laws take away rights. In the 21 states with such laws, wages are lower, poverty levels higher, more people have no health insurance and education spending per pupil is lower.

Bills similar to H.R. 1109 have been introduced on a statewide basis, but a national bill has not been previously introduced.

Right to work for less laws forbid workers and their unions from negotiating union security clauses into their collective bargaining agreements. Simply put, a union security clause means that all workers who receive the economic benefits of union representation share the costs of maintaining union representation.

In right to work for less states, workers may choose not to pay fees to the union but the union still is required to represent them. Right to work for less laws, long-promoted by anti-worker, anti-union organizations, threaten to drain unions' financial resources and prevent unions from representing and protecting members.

H.R. 1109 would amend Section 2 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 152) by striking paragraph eleventh, which reads:

"Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, or of any other statute or law of the United States, or Territory thereof, or of any State, any carrier or carriers as defined in this chapter and a labor organization or labor organizations duly designated and authorized to represent employees in accordance with the requirements of this chapter shall be permitted -

"(a) to make agreements, requiring, as a condition of continued employment, that within sixty days following the beginning of such employment, or the effective date of such agreements, whichever is the later, all employees shall become members of the labor organization representing their craft or class: Provided, That no such agreement shall require such condition of employment with respect to employees to whom membership is not available upon the same terms and conditions as are generally applicable to any other member or with respect to employees to whom membership was denied or terminated for any reason other than the failure of the employee to tender the periodic dues, initiation fees, and assessments (not including fines and penalties) uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership.

"(b) to make agreements providing for the deduction by such carrier or carriers from the wages of its or their employees in a craft or class and payment to the labor organization representing the craft or class of such employees, of any periodic dues, initiation fees, and assessments (not including fines and penalties) uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership: Provided, That no such agreement shall be effective with respect to any individual employee until he shall have furnished the employer with a written assignment to the labor organization of such membership dues, initiation fees, and assessments, which shall be revocable in writing after the expiration of one year or upon the termination date of the applicable collective agreement, whichever occurs sooner.

"(c) The requirement of membership in a labor organization in an agreement made pursuant to subparagraph (a) of this paragraph shall be satisfied, as to both a present or future employee in engine, train, yard, or hostling service, that is, an employee engaged in any of the services or capacities covered in the First division of paragraph (h) of section 153 of this title defining the jurisdictional scope of the First Division of the National Railroad Adjustment Board, if said employee shall hold or acquire membership in any one of the labor organizations, national in scope, organized in accordance with this chapter and admitting to membership employees of a craft or class in any of said services; and no agreement made pursuant to subparagraph (b) of this paragraph shall provide for deductions from his wages for periodic dues, initiation fees, or assessments payable to any labor organization other than that in which he holds membership: Provided, however, That as to an employee in any of said services on a particular carrier at the effective date of any such agreement on a carrier, who is not a member of any one of the labor organizations, national in scope, organized in accordance with this chapter and admitting to membership employees of a craft or class in any of said services, such employee, as a condition of continuing his employment, may be required to become a member of the organization representing the craft in which he is employed on the effective date of the first agreement applicable to him: Provided, further, That nothing herein or in any such agreement or agreements shall prevent an employee from changing membership from one organization to another organization admitting to membership employees of a craft or class in any of said services.

"(d) Any provisions in paragraphs Fourth and Fifth of this section in conflict herewith are to the extent of such conflict amended."

Eight states are considering right to work laws: Connecticut (S.B. 621), Colorado (H.B. 1300 and 1301), Hawaii (H.B. 906 and S.B. 626), New Hampshire (H.B. 221), New Mexico (H. B. 654), Oklahoma (H.B.1120) and South Carolina (H.B. 3176). Legislation also is expected to be introduced in Arkansas.

 

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April 9, 2001
bentley@ble.org

 

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers