They can’t fool all of the workers all of the time, but they’re trying.
U.S. Supreme Court is about to take up a case that could determine
whether members of a bargaining unit would have to pay dues for the
benefits they receive under the union-negotiated contract.
the court finds that workers do not have to pay what is called an
agency fee or fair share fee (a fee in lieu of dues for the benefits
they receive from a union contract), it is possible that all of the
U.S. would become a right-to-work nation.
case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), involves a
member of a bargaining unit who receives all of the benefits of the
union contract, yet does not want to join the union or pay the agency
fee, an amount less than full dues that union members pay.
Typically, these cases are taken through the courts by Right Wing
organizations such as the National Right to Work Legal Defense
Foundation (NRTWLDF), always in the name of protecting the civil
rights of workers who do not want to be part of the union and refuse
to support the union in their workplace, even though they receive the
same higher wages, holidays, paid vacations, health insurance, and
pensions, just to name a few.
this case, involving the CTA, the plaintiff is using the old First
Amendment ruse, saying that being required to pay a fair share of the
cost of operating the union is against her principles (and, we can
assume, the right not to associate). They are saying that it
violates Rebecca Friedrichs’ civil rights to have to pay a fair
share fee and that she deserves, and has a right to, a free ride on
the backs of all of the other union members who actually pay the
freight. Sources such as the right-wing National Review referred to
the fair share fee or agency fee as union “coercion.”
same people, using their logic, should be out campaigning for the
right of working people not to pay taxes to any government entity,
because most workers object to much of what the politicians do on any
given occasion. But, if they did that, they would be cutting off
their money supply, since it is the working women and men who pay the
bulk of the taxes and fees, even though the tax bill of the 1 percent
may seem to be great, it pales in comparison to the tax revenues and
fees paid by the 99 percent.
is not just the NRTWLDF that is looking to the Supreme Court to deal
the death blow to the union movement, but there are dozens or scores
of groups paid for by the millionaires and billionaires, who have
been funding the effort to rescind any laws that help workers improve
their lives, and they have been doing it for generations. This case
is the one they are pinning their hopes on.
unionists disdainfully refer to NRTWLDF as the “right to work
for less” committee. It is a creature of the plutocrats and,
wherever the right-to-work laws are in effect, the level of wages is
lower, the standard of living becomes stagnant or is reduced and a
whole new segment of the population descends toward poverty, with all
of the attendant miseries, such as low functioning schools, limited
or no medical care or facilities, and collapsing infrastructure.
Those things are not accidents.
no secret that the U.S. has become a plutocracy, controlled by wealth
and those who own the wealth. It can be called an oligarchy (rule by
the few), as well, because what we do as a nation is determined by a
handful of the rich and corporate types, all working through their
minions in the Congress and state legislatures. The plutocrats and
oligarchs are not just going after unions, they are going after
Social Security: They want to destroy it as we know it, by
privatizing it. By privatizing it, the corporations can get their
hands on a pile of money that probably each year is exceeded only by
the U.S. military and defense budget.
they have finished off the unions, they believe, it should be
relatively easy to finish off the social programs they feel are a
drag on their ability to suck the substance out of the nation and its
people. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the lifeline in
their old age for millions of people who worked all their lives for
those small but vital benefits. But it’s a pile of money that
Corporate America can’t wait to put in their private and
introducing S.731 in the Senate, Senator Bernie Sanders, who is
campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, wants to
expand Social Security. He said, “At a time of massive wealth
inequality, when 99 percent of all new income generated in this
country goes to the top 1 percent, and when over half of the American
people have less than $10,000 in savings, the last thing we should do
is cut Social Security.”
short period in U.S. history in which unions expressed the strength
of workers, and when some 36 percent of workers were in unions, was
the time of the growth of the great middle class and secure working
class and it was during that time that unions played the greatest
part in prompting the passage of the most important social programs,
a few of which we are discussing here.
current case before the Supreme Court, involving the California
Teachers Association, is just one small part of the broad-based
assault on the rights of workers to form unions and make them
effective in raising the standard for all workers, union or
non-union. Unions always have done this.
Luther King Jr. agreed. In a speech to the state AFL-CIO convention
in Chicago in 1965, he said: “The labor movement was the
principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and
progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave
birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief
for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere
survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead
this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When
in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the
nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole
see the union movement and the social programs that came out of the
struggle of workers and their unions as a pot of money that could be
turned to profit…their profit. And, they want it. Since
the end of World War II, the millionaires and billionaires have sent
their shock troops out into the country to turn workers’ eyes
away from the reality of their lives, by providing television and
movies (and now, video games and iPhones), sports, and fast food.
They have bought up the means of information and news, so that only a
half-dozen corporations own most of the media, they have established
think tanks that pump out propaganda that ends up in our grade
schools, high schools, and institutions of higher learning. Workers
are turned against their own interests, even before they are workers,
and it’s all part of a grand plan. Their think tanks turn out
oceans of propaganda for newspapers, magazines, television,
educational institutions, and, even churches and other places of
in the U.S. is controlled by the same small group and, since the
Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, money from
the plutocrats has polluted the political and electoral system.
With unlimited money, they control the electoral process, helping
to suppress the franchise of those they believe might vote against
the interests of the 1 percent.
money has infiltrated the cultural institutions, as well, including
museums and the purchase of chairs (or creating departments or
courses of study) in colleges and universities around the country.
v. California Teachers Association is a very important case for
unions, because a negative decision by the justices will make it very
hard to come back from an 11 percent unionization rate overall (6
percent in the private sector). For the plutocrats, a small setback
is not all that alarming, since they have been at this work for
generations and they know they hold all of the money and the power.
Many workers know the game the rich are playing and, if they can
impart that knowledge to the mass of workers in the country, the
repercussion could be great.
nation is in a time of turmoil in a world of turmoil. It does not
need the people to be dictated to by the oligarch-plutocrats. After
all Americans did not like living under the rule of a king and they
appear to like dictators even less.