Since the 1970s, growth in “real wages” (the value of dollars paid to employees after adjusting for inflation) in the United States has slowed relative to overall economic productivity. It is no coincidence that during this same period there has been an ever increasing amount of federal and state legislation aimed at suppressing unions.
The biggest opponents of labor organizations in the workplace are company CEOs and billionaires. They spend countless dollars on anti-union propaganda within their own companies, and they spend millions and millions on campaigns for candidates who oppose pro-worker agendas.
Earlier this year, Amazon launched an aggressive public relations campaign against unionization at its warehouse in Alabama (with money that could have been used to pay its employees a fair wage), including texting employees, leaflets, a website urging workers to “do it no dues” and leaflets displayed in bathrooms urging workers to “vote” NO “. “
After that election, workers were then able to watch their own boss take off aboard a billion dollar rocket into space with record Amazon profits.
So when I saw an editorial by Brian Dayton of the West Virginia Chamber calling the PRO Act a âployâ by the âelitesâ to âseize power,â I couldn’t help but laugh.
How on earth could federal legislation strengthen workers’ rights – their ability to form a union in their workplace to negotiate better wages and benefits, safety protections, hours and other conditions? their right to speak out about low wages, unsafe conditions or other workplace issues without intimidation or retaliation from their employer?
Mr. Dayton’s clumsy attempt to tie the “elite Liberals” to a workers’ bill is about as clear as the mud. As a spokesperson for wealthy corporations, many of which are based outside West Virginia, he wanted, but failed, to tie workers’ legislation to partisan DC politics in order to tarnish the ‘public opinion.
There is no doubt that Mr Dayton is frustrated that the Republican Governor of West Virginia has said, more than once, that the so-called Right to Work Act and the current wage repeal have failed. failed to attract business to our state.
The PRO Act would help repeal the right to work in West Virginia and other states. Millions of dollars spent by the Koch brothers and other CEOs on the creation of the ACLA and the erosion of workers’ rights by legislation such as the right to work will have been, rightly, wasted.
All Right to Work does is force a union to represent employees who refuse to pay for their services. Would the Chamber of Commerce allow a company to benefit from its representation without paying a membership fee? It doesn’t feel right to me – it seems unfair and hypocritical.
Mr. Dayton wonders why a simple majority of employees should be allowed to form a union within a private company. I do not understand this. Most organizations and institutions (perhaps the Chamber of Commerce?) Take their decisions by simple majority. Legislation is voted on daily by simple majority. Elections are won and lost by simple majority. It is an essential part of our democracy and our freedom.
And it’s not just grassroots workers who benefit from good wages and fair workplaces. Small businesses depend on workers to use their wages to buy cars and groceries, frequent restaurants, etc.
These are the people who teach and train their children, manufacture and deliver goods and repair their homes and businesses with the skills and knowledge of their trade. The average unionized worker earns 20% more than the non-unionized worker, and these wages help boost the local economy.
We at the AFL-CIO of West Virginia are grateful that the Governor of Justice has recognized that the current right to work and wage repeal have done nothing in this state. We are grateful to Senator Manchin for signing the PRO Act to ensure that workers are paid fairly for their work, receive quality health care, have safe working conditions and have time to spend with their families.
West Virginia is known to be among the hardest working people in this country, and they deserve dignity, respect and a voice. We have given sufficient respite to the business elites. The PRO law is a law for the people.
Andy Walters is West Virginia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer.