Right to Work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment. Hearing that definition, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Right to work laws sound a lot like slavery.”
What’s that? That’s not at all what you were thinking? Well, you must not work for Detroit-based Teamsters Local 214:
A Michigan union invoked the provision of the state constitution that bans slavery in their argument against right-to-work, court documents show.
Teamsters Local No. 214 stated Dec. 6 that right-to-work was “a violation of the prohibitions against involuntary servitude” because members of the union had to work against their will on behalf of non-union members. The union then referred to Article I, Section 9 of the state constitution, which states: “Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this state.”
The claim was made in response to a lawsuit filed by four city of Dearborn employees who were going to be charged $150 by the union for any grievance they filed after they left the union when they exercised their rights under state law.
What the Teamsters failed to mention is that the reason non-union workers get the same benefits as unions members is because they previously asked for, and received, permission from the federal government to exclusively represent all employees in a workplace where a union exists.
Also, it’s ironic that they’re claiming to have to work against their will on behalf of non-union members when that is exactly what they want the non-union members to do. By removing right to work provisions, that unions would require, as a condition of employment, that workers pay membership dues to the unions.
Perhaps instead of attempting to extort money as a condition of employment, the unions should show why they are worth joining. “If unions truly add value, then they don’t need to force workers to join,” says Antony Davies, a business professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, ” Workers will join of their own free will.”
Liberating Labor questions the assumption that Christian social teaching unequivocally endorses all forms of trade unionism. This essay focuses on Catholic social teaching, since it provides the only systematic treatment of labor unions within Christian social thought.