News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

January 8, 2012

FLASHPOINT: The right-to-work debate: ‘Devil at Our Doorstep’

As the 2012 Indiana Legislative Assembly convenes, January will represent a tipping point for all Hoosiers’ individual freedoms as politicians and Big Labor draw battle lines to determine if Indiana will become the 23rd right-to-work state.

Common sense should make the outcome of such a battle obvious, as a right-to-work law ensures that every employee has freedom of choice against compulsory unionism and infringements on the right to one's own property, i.e., your labor. Unfortunately, common sense needs some help with this oft misrepresented issue.

Under a right-to-work law, an employee would not be compelled to join a union as under current law. Additionally, “security clauses” or closed shops that require every employee to be a union member and “check-off clauses” requiring a company or government entity to collect union dues would be eliminated from collective-bargaining agreements. These punitive clauses basically guarantee union contracts for life, thus eliminating incentive to provide members viable products or services. Other than decertification, employees have no options or recourse from belonging to the union and paying dues, thereby perpetuating forced unionism.

A second form of forced unionism exists, one that sets the table for the perpetual forced-unionism model. As chronicled in my book, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” unions utilize vicious corporate campaigns to force employees to unionize by pressuring employers to capitulate and sign a “neutrality agreement,” the genesis of the so-called “card check.” This agreement eliminates an employee’s right to a secret-ballot election, requiring employers to provide to union organizers information on all employees, including home addresses. Union organizers then utilize unscrupulous tactics, unmonitored by any government agency, to intimidate or otherwise force a bare majority of employees to sign union cards, at which time the employer is automatically unionized. The campaign depends on abuse, intimidation, improprieties and misinformation.

Despite historical claims of protecting the middle class, unions have essentially created an unsustainable system in both the private and public sectors, ultimately destroying the middle class they purport to support. The American auto and steel industries are prime examples of the unions’ destruction of viable industries. Consequently, we have seen a historical decline in the number of middle-class jobs in the auto and steel industries as well as the current threats facing public-sector employees.

Even so, big labor would have you believe they have an altruistic mission to provide people the right to be represented in the workplace. If unions were so concerned about peoples’ rights, you would think they would be in favor of right-to-work, allowing each employee freedom of choice. These unions, though, are nearly extinct and desperately need membership dues to elect sympathetic politicians who in turn will pass laws and appoint bureaucrats to utilize regulatory power to further their agenda.

If unions are willing to force people to unionize, they will likely utilize the same tactics to keep them unionized, assuring their own survival at the expense of the economy, jobs and freedom of choice.

Again, right-to-work is an issue of the right to private property — one's labor — which we as Hoosiers expect both sides of the aisle at the Statehouse to honor and defend. The right to private property is a triumph of Western Civilization, and the associated freedoms that come with it have proved to be extremely rewarding for those working hard to achieve the American dream.

Our founding fathers designed a marvelous system that guarantees social and economic justice by establishing individual responsibility. It is time for all Hoosiers to hold elected officials accountable to protect our individual freedoms and pass a right-to-work law.

David Bego is the owner of an Indianapolis business employing 5,000 workers serving facilities in 37 states. Mr. Bego, who holds a master's degree in microbiology, is the author of “The Devil at my Doorstep,” which chronicles his company's labor challenges. A new book, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” will be released shortly. He wrote this for The Indiana Policy Review.

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