President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the act on July 5, 1935. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins (right) looks on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last year Mark Mix gave a talk at the Pro Family Legislators conference on compulsory unionism which I have found very informative. I’ve blogged about it before.
In 1935 the Wagner Act forced all workers in America to be in unions whether they liked it or not. Mr. Mix talked about Samuel Gompers who was an early union organizer who advocated for volunteerism as opposed to compulsory union membership. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which united, is invincible.” His reasoning was that unions would be more cohesive and stronger if they were voluntary groups. Unfortunately, Other union leaders did not agree. In 1935, at any rate, the Wagner Act made compulsory unionism the law of the land. This was and is in opposition to our 1st amendment freedom of association. In other words, if we have the freedom to choose with whom we will associate, don’t we have the converse right to choose with whom we will not associate?
Unions quickly gained an enormous amount of power. For instance, the Mineworkers Union basically shut down the war effort soon after by refusing to mine coal until their demands were met. Congress amended the Wagner Act with the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. Among other things the act made it so states could enact ’right to work’ laws. Since that time 22 states have opted for ‘right to work’ legislation. ‘Right to Work’ basically means no one can be compelled to join a union nor be compelled not to join a union. In other words, the only unions in ‘right to work’ states would be voluntary unions. Just like Gompers ennvisioned. Today our most prosperous states are those right to work states. The industries in heavily unionized states have crumbled or are crumbling under the overburden of union demands.
I for one am in favor of voluntary unionism. I am a member of a voluntary teacher association. I am also a member of the compulsory teachers union CTA.
There is legislation afoot that would allow teachers the choice of whether they want their union dues to be automatically deducted from their check as they are currently. I think this legislation has merit. Unions are calling it “The Corporate Power Grab Initiative“. The other side is calling it the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act“. They have very different stories to tell about what the act does and does not do. One point of disagreement is on who gives more to politicians. CTA claims that corporations out give unions 15 to 1. But I was recently told by a CTA officer that CTA is the most powerful voice in Sacramento… Here is a site that tracks giving to politicians.
The Stop Special Interest Money Now Act may be the right act for giving freedom back to workers in California and eliminating the overbearing liberal voice of union officials in our state legislature. I invite you to read the text of the act for yourself and enter the discussion by making a comment here. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this proposed law.