My parents are republicans. I don’t argue with them about politics anymore because they’re in their 80’s and I love them, and, frankly, there’s just nothing good that will come of it.
But when I was home recently, ironically enough for a memorial for a union man known to the family, my Mom started to talk about Scott Walker, right to work, etc, and how she thought it was only fair that workers not be forced to join a union. Keep in mind that my folks, God love them, are not particularly sophisticated when it comes to such things. They’re working class people who really ought to be voting democratic but somehow think voting republican is, well, just more American.
So I let my Mom make her case while my Dad sort of nodded in agreement quietly, and when she was done with all of the reasons she’d heard on Fox News about why right to work was about worker freedom, job creation, and so on and so forth, I quietly made my case.
I said, ” look, Mom, all this bill will do is prohibit employers from automatically deducting dues from workers paychecks, which is what an employer agrees to in contract negotiations after an election in which the workers have voted to join the union. It means that workers who benefit from the better wages, benefits, and working conditions that come with union representation don’t have to pay their dues. ”
My Mom stared at me for a minute as if she didn’t believe me, and then started once again talking about forcing people to join a union, so I mildly interrupted her and said, ” Mom, no one is forced to join a union, whatever that means. There’s an election held and if 51% of the workers who vote want to join the union then the employer agrees to deduct dues automatically from their paychecks. This bill will just allow workers to opt out of paying their dues even though they get all the benefits the union provides. ”
She looked at me in amazement. ” Why would the government get involved in that? ” she asked. ” I don’t know ” I replied. ” Good question ”
She stared just a bit longer and finally said, ” Well, that’s not fair. ” ” No, it’s not ” said my Dad.
If this right to work bill passes the Assembly, and there’s almost no doubt it will, I hope Labor runs a long term public education campaign in Wisconsin about fairness. Not how Governor Walker wants to destroy unions, or the Democratic Party, or how ALEC wrote the bill, or how this bill will lower wages for everyone, all things a lot of average people simply don’t understand.
But average Americans, like my parents, still understand what’s fair and what isn’t.