Defending Right to Work in the Mid-West

Date: March 04, 2016 Last Edit: March 07, 2016

Last week labor unions came out swinging in their bid to strike down worker protections in Wisconsin, which now ensure employees a right to choose whether to join and financially support unions. The case, currently pending in Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court, alleges that Wisconsin’s Right to Work law is unconstitutional because it effectively takes a stream of revenue away from the unions. But as the NFIB Small Business Legal Center argued, in a joint-brief with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, and the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW), these statutory protections, for workers, are expressly authorized by federal law, and courts throughout the country have unanimously found them constitutional.

What is more, we’re talking about the right of employees to keep their hard earned money. And in last week’s hearing before the Dane County Circuit Court, the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office emphasized that point. Assistant Attorney General David Meany said: “this case is not about the union’s money, but about the employees’ money.  The Constitution does not protect a union’s right to take money from non-union members.”

In a press release issued on the day of the hearing, Milton Chappell of NRWF said that he is, “confident that this latest … legal gambit will not succeed in undermining Wisconsin employees’ newly-enshrined workplace freedoms.” And we agree. The case may ultimately have to work its way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but at the end of the day we are very confident that the Wisconsin Right to Work will be upheld. We are emboldened by our recent success in defending Indiana’s Right to Work statute last year—another case where NFIB teamed up with NRTW.

As we have emphasized before, right to work laws are important to the small business community because small business owners want the flexibility to be able to recruit top-talent, including employees who may object to being conscripted into union membership. For that matter, if union membership is made mandatory then employers are further disadvantaged in attracting top-talent because part of their earnings will be taken by the unions. And then of course there is the big picture issue that compelled unionization schemes end up funding union political activities that are inevitably opposed to small business interests. For all of these reasons it is vital that we protect right to work statutes in states that have implemented these reforms.

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