MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY-TREASURER
Steven P. Vairma
Steve Vairma's Column:
Union busters' lies exposed
In the never-ending debate over campaign finance reform, organized labor has forever been an alluring target for right-wing politicians who constantly seek to force unions out of the political arena.
They argue that labor should not be allowed to use members' dues money for political contributions because the membership has no control over how the money is spent. That might be a debatable point if it were true, but it isn't.
Labor unions don't have the advantage of deregulation, a privilege granted to corpostions a few years ago by Citizens United, a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision that reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections.
Meanwhile unions must comply with strict, archaic federal reporting regulations on their political contributions.
Even so, the fact is that organized labor is the most democratic institution in the country.
Workers vote on whether they want union representation. In Colorado, if the union wins the election by a simple majority, workers are required to vote in a second election, which the union must win by 75 percent before it is even allowed to bargain for an all union shop.
In 'right-to-work' states unions are not allowed to negotiate for 'all-union' shops.
Then workers must vote on the proposed labor contract that is negotiated with management.
Most union leaders face elections every three years, giving members the opportunity throw the rascals out if they don't approve of their officers' conduct, including how they spend dues money.
In addition, members can also vote to decertify the union, which effetively ends union representation.
And, under the Supreme Court's Beck ruling, union membership is not compulsory, even in all union shops.
Workers may choose to be nonmembers, but they must pay a monthly fee to the union for representing them in collective bargaining with the employer for better, wages, hour and working conditions.
Nonunion fee payers are not eligible to vote in elections for union officers, nor can they vote on contract proposals.
Because Beck limits their participation in the union's democratic process, it is ironically a counterproductive choice if a worker seriously wants to change union policy.
Union busters argue that if corporate shareholders disagree the corporation's policies or political contributions, they can take their money elsewhere, but a union member can't do that.
The truth is, though, that union members have even more choices.
They can go to work at a nonunion company, a simple choice, or they can vote their union leaders out of office; they can decertify the union, or they can exercise their Beck rights and become non-members.
These options are rarely exercised because the vast majority of union members consider their membership a bargain only their union can provide.
In every state of the union, pay, benefits, and working conditions are considerably better under a union contract.
It's as simple as that.
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