I support unions. While the consequences of the recent pension deal between Governor Christie and Trenton lawmakers remains to be seen, now is the time for New Jerseyans to consider how best to protect the middle class in an era of high unemployment and declining pay. Unlike my opponents, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, I recognize that union membership translates into higher wages and better workplace conditions for Garden State workers. Handlin and O’Scanlon not only want to reform public employee benefits — an idea that has merits — they want to restrict the rights of private sector workers to negotiate with management.
Category Archives: right to work
Readers may find Amy Handlin’s article about the “Right to Work” and unions rather interesting even though it is somewhat biased and fails to tell the whole story.
Since I am a life member of the Communications Workers of America” union ( a member since 1953 when I went to work for the telephone company…it was New Jersey Bell then and was Bell Atlantic when I retired in 1989 and is Verizon today) ,and CWA was a union that represented only telephone workers and was an “agency shop” not a “closed shop”, my view of the situation differs from Ms. Handlin’s point of view.
Unions are businesses also and they are in the business of representation……….thus CWA represents public workers today because technology has diminished the number of telephone workers. Since it requires many members to accomplish goals on behalf of membership,CWA expanded it’s membership into the public sector where the growth of potential membership existed. The old adage is “there is strength in numbers ” .
Everyone benefits from the unions accomplishments,even management who are not usually unionized ( police are one exception). CWA was always considered one of the most democratic ( not in the political sense) of the major unions in this country.
Distortion of the facts for political purposes serves no one . The republicans do a good job at the blame game but they have no compunction in failing to tell the whole truth for political purposes. Union membership is comprised of both Republicans and Democrats……..lots of people from each party. It is not all about politics, it’s about “fair representation” of workers rights.
Republican Assemblywoman Amy “the Hypocrite” Handlin (LD13), has a guest column appearing in print and online in this weeks edition of the Independent, in which she states that she will be introducing a bill that will essentially strip all workers of their right to collective bargaining.
“This legislation is dead on arrival. It’s that simple. Dead on arrival.
Radical conservative ideology such as this has no place in New Jersey. This type of move may play elsewhere, but, quite simply, this anti-worker bill will never see the light of day.
Not only is this legislation an atrocious assault on worker rights, but it’s terrible economic policy, it would set back any chance we have under Gov. Christie of a strong recovery.”…“Democrats and Republicans can work together for the common good and when appropriate to improve our economy and protect worker benefits, but this wage-cutting, anti-business bill is a line in the sand that cannot be crossed,”
“Right to Work”is a misnomer. It’s really the opportunity for any company to pay any employee any amount the company wants. Just what we need: more people earning less than a living wage and without any access to health care other than visits to the emergency rooms. So good for NJ! The assemblywoman cannot be so naive that she believes employers would care about safe working conditions. After all, money spent on safe working conditions would be better off lining the pockets of the wealthy. And, by law, union dues cannot be used for political purposes. Members must choose to donate into a separate fund. Now, if members are too scared to tell the union bosses they won’t donate, shame on the members. (Sarah H)
“Unions need a balance” – For the most part I agree with Ms. Handlin. I don’t think it’s an all or nothing deal though, unions are good things to have in otherwise unsustainably-low paying situations, but for professionals it makes less sense. Let the legislation you craft not try to swing the pendulum so far that it undermines the good side of unions, or it will surely fail.
” Handlin comments” – According to Handlin:“Right to Work would also quicken New Jersey’s economic revival. Right-to-Work states had 497,000 new businesses from 1993 to 2009, compared with 340,000 in forced union states, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently cited by the Wall Street Journal. That’s remarkable because just 40 percent of American workers live in Right-to-Work states.”
It’s hard to believe so many people fall for statements like this of Handlin’s, and support radical legislation like this. The truth is, what’s really remarkable is that ALL of the businesses she cites to being created from 1993 to 2009 weren’t created in Right-to-Work states…after all, in their pursuit of profits, businesses will do anything to keep the costs of labor down. Why is all the greatest economic growth now going on in China, India, etc? Because people will work 16 hour days for $12. Handlin sees that success spreading to the south, and now wants to bring it here to NJ. If it’s been so great for those 22 states, why is our per-capita income and standard of living so much higher here?
Thanks but no thanks, Amy Handlin, you’re just a rich legislator who wants to be even richer like all the others in your party. Some of us can still see right through all your party’s BS. (Richard W)
Unions and the rights of their workers are being trampled on, when is it going to stop? Maybe after work conditions and wages are returned to their pre-1920’s standing and the return of the “Robber Barons” who lined the pockets of political cronies to looked the other way.
By Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute Vice President
posted from The Hill’s Congress Blog
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently filed a complaint against the Boeing Corporation based on evidence that Boeing moved work away from Washington State as punishment for the employees having exercised their legally protected right to strike. Politicians who either don’t know the law or don’t care about it have condemned the NLRB, including Mitt Romney and his fellow Republican candidates for President. They want to rile up the business community by painting the decision as the President’s, even though it was made by a career government employee on behalf of an independent agency outside the President’s control.
Various senators and congressmen are now trying to influence the Labor Board’s ultimate decision, which is not a policy decision but an adjudication. The law and policy were provided by Congress in 1935 when the National Labor Relations Act was passed by Congress and signed by Franklin Roosevelt. The NLRB’s only responsibility is to apply the law to the facts of this case, an undertaking that should be free from political influence or intimidation. And yet a growing number of legislators are threatening to slash the NLRB’s budget and punish its General Counsel if the case proceeds in the manner proscribed by statute.
This attack on the NLRB is political and self-interested. After all, the NLRB’s administrative law judge has not even held a trial yet. The only decision that has been made – and all legal scholars agree it was defensible – was by the General Counsel in response to a charge brought by the International Association of Machinists that there was good cause to believe that Boeing had violated the law. In other words, the union provided enough evidence of Boeing’s motivation that a trial in the matter is justified.
The members of the NLRB will not even review the case unless and until the trial judge’s decision is appealed. So all the howling about the NLRB’s assault on capitalism and free enterprise is premature, to say the least.
Sadly, the political pressure is having an effect already. Even Democrats are racing to say that, of course, business has the right to relocate anywhere it wants to, even to a so-called right-to-work state like South Carolina. And they’re right, up to a point.
Businesses are free to relocate to other states or countries. South Carolina has been a stop-over for businesses relocating from the north for decades; many companies, from textile manufacturers to furniture companies and paper processors, often go on to countries like China after absorbing the tax breaks and other subsidies South Carolina offers them. Unions are rare in South Carolina, but independent unions in China are actually illegal, and wages are even lower in Chinese textile plants than in Gaston or Winnsboro.
But the motive for a relocation matters. Moving for cheaper labor is legal. But closing a plant in Los Angeles and moving to North Dakota to avoid hiring Hispanics or African Americans is not legal. Shutting a factory in New York and moving it to South Carolina to avoid hiring Jews or Muslims would not be legal, either. One can imagine other illegal motivations, but the point is that we reasonably limit relocations when they violate laws. In Boeing’s case, the bad motive that has been alleged is a desire to punish the machinist union members for exercising their legally protected right to strike. E-mail traffic among Boeing managers is alleged to show that it was due to the desire to punish the Washington State Boeing workers for having engaged in lawful strikes that airline production work was transferred. Congress has prohibited job decisions based explicitly on unlawful animus, whether it’s hostility to blacks, women, Mormons, Muslims, Jews or unions. Instead of browbeating the neutral prosecutor and judge, why not let them do their jobs and apply the law to the facts? We used to call that due process.
Ross Eisenbrey is a lawyer and former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Committee. He has been vice president of the Economic Policy Institute since 2003.