The ‘right to work’ proposal

Charlie Warner

Argus News Editor

 

I’m sure many of my readers feel that I am a very liberal, far-left person, siding with the Democrats on every issue. Au contraire!

 

I happen to strongly support the “right to work” constitutional amendment the Republicans recently proposed.

 

According to our ECM Capitol Reporter Tim Budig,  Republicans gathered Feb. 2 in St. Paul to present a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would ban joining a union or paying union dues as a condition of employment.

 

Republicans supporting the amendment say it’s touching at the heart of economic liberty.

 

Democrats say it’s an attack on working folks.

 

Republicans claim their proposal in no way changes collective bargaining in Minnesota. The only thing the proposed amendment would change is that nobody would be forced to join a union.

 

Democratic lawmakers depicted the proposed amendment as divisive and another Republican gift to the wealthy.

 

Republicans argue that Minnesota by becoming a Right-to-Work state would invite an inflow of investment and workers.

 

The DFL leaders said no Democratic lawmaker would vote for the proposed amendment. They suggested that in part Republican support for the amendment stems from a desire to sap union-based campaign support for Democrats.

 

Republican lawmakers argued that the proposed amendment was not anti-union. In reviewing the legislation, GOP leaders say the legislation prohibits employers from making nonunion involvement a condition of employment.

 

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, a former member of two unions, said the intention of the proposed amendment was “very simple.” Hann believes the amendment will pass the legislature and be passed by voters.

 

“I think people should be free to join unions. I think it’s a constitutional right,” Hann said.

 

Hann also argued that if unions and union benefits are so appealing, “why do you need a law to force people to join,” he asked. Hann views the proposed amendment, if passed by voters, as forcing unions to make clearer their benefits — invite greater transparency, he argued.

 

Currently, 15.6 percent of the Minnesota workforce is unionized — the percentage over the past decade has fallen, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

About eight percent of the Minnesota private sector is unionized, and about 57 percent of the Minnesota public sector, according Unionstats.com.

 

So why do I support the proposed amendment? Because I don’t feel anyone should be denied the right to work just because he or she doesn’t want to join a union.

 

I completely agree that unions have been very beneficial to those of us working in the middle class. And if someone wants to join a union, no one should be able to deny them of that. But on the other side of the coin, no one should be forced to join a union either.

 

******

 

Last week I penned a column about the plight of the healthcare system in the United States.

 

I theorized that one of the reasons we have a shortage of doctors in this country is because not all of the talented young minds are permitted to enroll in medical schools.

 

I guess more folks read my column online than I thought. I received an email from the American Medical Association (AMA), which stated my opinion on this situation was wrong. This is what an AMA spokesperson wrote:

 

“The number of medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, of which the AMA is one of two co-sponsors, increased from 125 in 2006 to 135 in 2011. The number of medical students in the U.S. is also increasing.

 

“To help alleviate a physician shortage, the AMA supports medical education reform, including an increase in medical school class sizes and additional residency slots to train physicians in needed specialties and regions.

 

“To promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health, the AMA is committed to helping doctors help patients, and that includes ensuring that there are enough physicians to treat them.”

 

Keep those cards and letters coming. At least I know someone out there is reading what I write.

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