This response has been distributed to papers from Maine to Iowa.
James Sherk of the Heritage Foundations editorial:
Editorial response to: Right-to-work is right for America by; James Sherk,l Heritage Foundation, Jan.2012
By: Albert Abbasse
The Holland Sentinel News dated January 11, 2012, included an article by James Sherk, published through the Heritage Foundation. My research revealed that this same article appeared in several northern regional papers within a span of three days, including newspapers such as the Pittsburg (PA) Tribune, the Youngstown News, Maine Today, and my personal favorite, “The Gulf Today”. The Gulf Today is printed in English in the United Arab Emirates, which made me wonder why a wealthy Arab nation would even care about the Right to Work issue in the USA? Upon further investigation, I discovered that James Sherk is employed by the Heritage Foundation of Washington DC and that his articles are distributed by the McClatchy-Tribune Informational Service, a global distributor of various news reporting and publishing services for the Heritage Foundation.
To my personal dismay, this same article had made its way throughout many Midwest TV stations, newspapers and other publications, appearing as a full battle dress effort to support Indiana House Bill 1028. During my research review however, I noticed only one name on the first three pages of the search files, that being, James Sherk. He apparently now is the voice for the Heritage Foundation’s position supporting Right to Work Legislation in all 50 states.
A quick history of the issue of Right to Work goes back to 1965 when a major legislative issue before the 89th Congress was the repeal of section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act. Section 14b simply allows states to determine for themselves if they will be a “Right to Work” state or not. In its most simplistic of form, the very depth of the issue is voluntary v. compulsory unionism (or as commonly termed; Open v. Closed Shop). There are many sides to every (any) position. However, one thing that is very conspicuous in our form of American Government is; the power of “checks and balances”. Corporations have Boards of Director, CEOs, Presidents, and Managers etc., all in positions to make sure everyone is performing their assigned duties. They even have Independent auditors review their operations to assure that everyone is performing their duties in accordance with the; Rules or those “checks and balances”.
Then, there are legions of workers that have united across this great nation to assure that all employees are afforded; “due process”( another hallmark of American Governance) in the workplace so that inappropriate actions such as arbitrary terminations, unequal pay between men and women and dangerous work environments in the workplace do not occur.
However, there are business operations that simply do not have unions or audits. They all work just fine for the most part because of something called competition in the workplace. The unionized workshop fairly negotiates community standard living wages, healthcare, safe work environments, and due process clauses that allow workers to directly interact with management to resolve issues that impact quality and output.
That is what “Stakeholders” should do, and the workers within the commercial enterprise are the biggest stakeholder. A commercial enterprise is only as stable as the workforce that helps that enterprise be successful. Commercial businessmen in non-union stakeholder facilities understand that to compete for qualified labor; they must meet the ongoing competition by offering competitive working wages, fringe benefits and working conditions.
Union stakeholders negotiate based upon what the financial health of the commercial enterprise allows. They do not ask nor negotiate contracts outside of that which the operation has in disposable income as that would not be in their best interests either. Wage negations for example run from 1 to 3.5% of wages over the course of a contract. The union stakeholder works to make the commercial enterprise as successful as possible as their very livelihood is what is at stake; the workers truly are the major stakeholders of any operation. They provide a check and balance against the operation to ensure that profits, improvements and growth are maintained.
US Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis stated:
“The union attains success when it reaches the ideal condition, and the ideal condition for a union is to be strong and stable and yet to have in the trade outside its own ranks an appreciable number of men who are non unionist. Such a nucleus of unorganized labor will check oppression by the union as the union checks the oppression by the employer.”
Union membership is simply the right of workers to band together to protect the basic rights of hours to work, equal pay, fair health care (a healthy worker does not miss work time), due process in the work place, and most importantly, it allows the workers a voice as the largest of stakeholders within the operation.
The last and most important item of so-called Right to Work laws is the overturning of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. This act is the flagship of worker equality; it established the Federal Minimum Wage, employment of minors, interstate regulations, workplace discrimination, age discrimination, exposure of workers to toxins, and of course, all worker safety activities. Are you sure, that you, as a stakeholder may trust your employer to continue to provide this level of protection? without any oversight of what and how it operates? the very enterprise that you are the major stakeholder, that they will hold ‘best work practices’ as a priority?
Mr. Sherk spent 15 paragraphs attempting to sell Americans a false bill of goods. When we view the laws of the 22 Right to Work states in comparison with the 28 states that operate under the 1938 “Fair Labor Act”, we see vast differences. One is that the average worker in a Right-to-work state earns approximately $5,300.00 less. Those same states also have a rate of workplace deaths which is 51% higher, compared to states where unions may advocate on behalf of workers.
One other point that Mr. Sherk should understand; union dues are not paid to union officials” or bosses. Union dues are paid to fund the union organization. Union officials “are democratically ELECTED” by the employees to represent them; each member votes for his or her choice of leaders just as we democratically elect Representatives and Senators.
Mr. Sherk denounces the ability for workers to negotiate working contracts, but apparently approves allowing an outside agency representing potential or current CEO’s negotiate wages, bonuses, health care, vacation time without any worker input. He apparently advocates that CEOs, CFOs and Board of Directors may vote themselves salaries and benefits which are upwards of 20 to 50 times what the median worker earn.
A 2006 Gallop Poll asked the following questions:
Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions? 58% of Respondents “Approved” of Unions.
Only 19% of respondents were union members.
Do you think labor unions mostly help or mostly hurt “The US economy in general”.
54% of respondents opined that “Unions” help.
My last response is this; Supporters claim ‘right to work’ laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled—federal law already does this, as well as protecting non-members from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a charlatan charade. Union members MUST sign annually what is called a “check-off card” if they chose to contribute to a Political PAC and how those funds are provided with name, address, phone number and employer. Corporations do not, they only need write the check, period.
When the first statement to you is an untruth, you are unlikely to find legitimacy in the rest of their statements. The article I respond to demonstrates the reality of that proposition.