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EDITORIAL: Bring up right to work

It’s time to reject the federal preference for forced unionizing

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Tired of lagging economic growth, wasteful government spending and high unemployment, states in the industrial Midwest have decided to break the iron triangle between Big Labor bosses, union political spending and the politicians who do their bidding. Now it's time for Washington to do the same.

Governors in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan put their political careers on the line in order to reform a broken system. Facing a $3.8 billion deficit, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature placed limits on collective bargaining, enacted the requirement that a union be recertified each year by a majority of its members and ended the use of automatic payroll deduction for union dues. The state now enjoys a surplus.

Taking reform one much-needed step further, Indiana and Michigan have enacted right-to-work laws. A Missouri House committee began consideration of a bill that would make the state the 25th in the nation to guarantee the right of employees to decide whether or not to join or financially support a union, though the measure faces the opposition of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. These laws basically ensure no person can be compelled as a condition of employment to join or pay dues to a labor union.

Contrary to the nasty rhetoric often heard from supporters of Big Labor, the laws don't ban union organizing and they don't discourage anyone from voluntarily joining a union. They merely ensure anyone who's in a union is there by choice and not coercion. This respect for the freedom of choice of employees pays off with greater job creation, faster economic growth, lower unemployment, increased after-tax income and higher purchasing power for families.

One would think that since Republicans have held control of the House of Representatives 14 out of the last 18 years, there would be more progress toward enacting a national right-to-work bill. Unfortunately, there hasn't been. House Republican leaders have been squeamish about bringing such a measure to the floor, perhaps afraid a vote would hurt Northeastern members and liberal Republicans. Others believe movement would threaten financial support from the handful of unions that are more sympathetic to Republicans. Some see no point making a tough vote just to send a bill to a Senate that has become a graveyard for good legislation.

These are excuses that prevent Congress from doing the right thing. As introduced earlier this month by Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, the National Right to Work Act doesn't expand federal law, it repeals five provisions in the National Labor Relations Act and one in the Railway Labor Act that authorize the firing of employees who refuse to pay union dues or "fees" to union bosses. It's simply the right thing to do.

Republicans on Capitol Hill need to take the inspiration from their statehouse colleagues who are proving that having a backbone pays off. Taking a stand based on clear principles lets voters know there's actually a difference between one political party and the other. Instead of avoiding a difficult vote, it's time to take the first step in ending forced unionism throughout the nation.

The Washington Times

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