The Pros And Cons Of Right-To-Work Laws

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Right-to-work laws have been heavily debated even before their formal inception in the mid-1940s and they continue to be debated today. The core of the debate is about union security, which is the unions right to secure their position in a shop once voted in. One example of union security is compulsory unionism. Right-to-work laws are legislation enacted on a per state bases that limits or eliminates compulsory unionism. The main viewpoint of right-to-work supporters is that compulsory unionism breaches inherent freedoms. The main argument of opponents is about collective bargaining power and the issue of free riders or people who benefit from the union but do not pay union dues. This essay will discuss early legislation of right-to-work…show more content…
Over the next couple of years, nine more states added legislation to their books that supported the same basic principal of limiting or eliminating compulsory unionism.4 In some cases union leaders brought suits against the states claiming right-to-work laws were unconstitutional, the case became the Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron and Metal.5 The case ultimately was decided by the Supreme Court in 1949, and ruled in favor of the states declaring “Under this constitutional doctrine the due process clause is no longer to be so broadly construed that the Congress and state legislation are put in a strait jacket when they attempt to suppress business and industrial conditions which they regard as offensive to the public welfare.”6 During the same time period of the early states enacting right-to-work laws, and what became the Supreme Court case, the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act was passed. The Taft-Hartley Act amended the earlier Wagner Act. A couple of the more notable amendments was to ban the closed shop and to explicitly grant the power to the states to impose more restrictive policy against union security. Right-to-works opponents claim that the existing Wagner Act allowed for the same state-level policy.7 The above mentioned Supreme Court case supports that claims. While the case was not settled until after the Taft-Hartley Act was passed, it was based on the law as it existing prior to its
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