|New Mexico working families came out in full force to canvass in opposition to a right-to-work law that would gut their collective bargaining rights. (Photo: New Mexico Federation of Labor)|
IAM and labor activists beat back so-called “right-to-work” bills, at least for now, in New Mexico and Kentucky, and continue to fight against the GOP’s sneak attack against organized labor in Wisconsin.
In New Mexico, after Machinists and other labor activists logged countless hours of phone banking, letter-writing campaigns, and community canvassing, “right to work” ultimately died in a Senate committee.
“The purpose of our union is to contribute in any way possible to making things better for working families,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen, a native of New Mexico. “Right-to-work laws would give people the benefit of a collective bargaining agreement without paying for it. They weaken our bargaining power, and drive up poverty in already poverty-stricken states.”
Anti-union Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), absent a GOP-majority in both chambers of the state legislature, has been pushing local governments to skirt federal labor law and pass their own right-to-work bills. But the state’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, says the power grab is illegal, as is Rauner’s proposal for local governments to ignore state prevailing wage laws.
“While Gov. Rauner continues his obsessive war on unions and the middle class, he just keeps running into huge road blocks – like the law,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.
Despite massive protests and public dissidence in Wisconsin, a right-to-work bill was signed into law by anti-union Gov. Scott Walker (R) after passing through the state’s GOP legislature in a special legislative session.
IAM District 10 and Local 1061, United Steelworks District 2 and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO filed a lawsuit claiming Wisconsin’s so-called right-to-work law forces unions to spend money to provide representation services to non-members who pay no dues or fees and is thus an unconstitutional taking of union property without just compensation.
A County Circuit Court Judge in Wisconsin acknowledged that unions had a chance of winning their lawsuit, but didn’t allow for an immediate injunction of the law while the case proceeds.
“Not only will ‘right to work’ lower wages, weaken safety standards and hurt all Wisconsin families, but we believe this law is unconstitutional,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, an IAM member and president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “All workers deserve the right to join together through their union and have a voice at work. Allowing some workers to get fair representation for nothing is unfair, un-American and not our Wisconsin.”
“It’s another injustice for working people,” said Neuenfeldt.