Right-to-work law turns state workers into big losers

Right-to-work forces dues-paying union members to subsidize the benefits that the non-dues paying employees get. Let’s think about how that works for other groups. Can you choose to live somewhere where there is a neighborhood association because they have extras like a pool and clubhouse and your yard is mowed and only some people pay, but all get the same benefits? Absolutely not.  In fact, if you choose to live where there is a neighborhood association and don’t pay your dues, it could put a lien on your house!

Why don’t we have a right-to-live law where we have a right to live wherever we want and we don’t have to pay taxes to the government but we get the same public education, police, firefighters, garbage collection, etc., as those who do? I think folks would think that was unfair.  Similarly, right-to-work is unfair as some members are paying for others who don’t pay and all receive the same thing. Why is that? Right-to-work laws were created to keep labor unions weak by hurting them financially.

As I was leaving a party recently, a young woman came over and thanked me for educating her about what right-to-work means as she was never taught it in school.

Over the years as more states become right-to-work, we are seeing what I call a race to the bottom as states try and sell themselves as a state where workers are paid less and also offer big tax breaks to companies moving to their state. It used to be we competed with third-world countries that offered cheap labor but now we are doing it in the United States of America. We should be lifting our fellow citizens up, not bringing them down.

Over the past 40 years despite production increasing, we have seen wages remain stagnant and we are losing the middle class that unions helped create. When people make less money, the tax base is not as high and more people need social services.  Unions help bring security to families with wages, health insurance, pensions, retirement and a grievance procedure that gives them due process.

Unfortunately in South Carolina, there’s no legal protection for people being fired on the spot unless they are a union worker or are protected by statues governing equal employment (race, creed, gender and the like.)  This is called “at will” employment.  Because South Carolina is an at-will employment state and a right-to-work state, working families and communities are losers in two big ways.