‘Unions Are Not Compelled to Represent Everyone in the Workplace’

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SHABAZZ: Lake County liberal unlikely to derail right-to-work law

Indiana attorney and commentator Abdul Hakim Shabazz: “If you have to compel someone to pay for you represent them, then maybe the problem isn’t them, maybe it’s you or the services you’re providing.” Image: welovetheclub.blogspot.com

In a column this week (see the link above), Indiana attorney and publisher Abdul Hakim Shabazz dissects an ongoing lawsuit brought by the bosses of suburban Chicago-based Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) to overturn the Hoosier State’s 20 month-old Right to Work statute, and also makes a positive case for the law’s merits.

A few weeks ago, a judge from Big Labor-dominated Lake County agreed with IUOE lawyers’ contention that the Indiana Right to Work law violates Article 1, Section 21 of the state constitution,which provides that:  “No person’s particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation.”

Shabazz suggests the ruling is unlikely to be upheld by the state Supreme Court, in part because the Indiana code does not regard corporations or unions as “persons,” but more importantly because “unions are not compelled to represent everyone in the workplace.”

U.S. Supreme Court precedents such as 1938’s Consolidated Edison clearly establish that union officials backed by a minority or a majority of employees in a workplace have the option of seeking recognition as the bargaining agent for their members only.  Shabazz explains:

Under the “members-only” categorization, the union would represent members who pay dues. However, many unions won’t go that route because they lose a lot of the [powers] granted to them by federal law, one of which is to collect fees from non-union members in states that don’t have a right-to-work law.

Union officials have the legal prerogative to pass up their members-only option and instead seek recognition by the employer or certification by the government as employees’ monopoly-bargaining agent.  But obviously that doesn’t give them any moral or constitutional entitlement to force workers who never asked to be unionized to pay union dues.

Shabazz’s column also points to data from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) that strongly suggest his state’s recently-adopted Right to Work law is already helping attract job-creating investments.

As of this summer, more than 53 employers who told IEDC officials that Right to Work would “factor into their decision-making process” have committed themselves to investing a total of more than$2.2 billion, which will support more than 6600 projected new jobs in Indiana.

And companies such as Reflex & Allen, Whayne Supply, Professional Transportation, Inc., SealCorp USA and Android Industries evidently regard the Right to Work as so important that they have been willing to risk Big Labor reprisals by publicly saying the statute made Indian more attractive to them.

Of course, Right to Work isn’t primarily about economics.  It’s really based on common sense.  As Shabazz observes, “If you have to compel someone to pay for you to represent them, then maybe the problem isn’t them, maybe it’s you or the services you’re providing.”