Walker Gets Heat From Obama For Ending Mandatory Union Dues
President Barack Obama called out Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Monday for signing legislation that ends mandatory union dues in the state.
The policy, known as right-to-work, is now law in 25 states with Wisconsin being the latest and several others considering it. While supporters argue that workers should have the right to choose whether they want to be in a union, opponents often claim it hurts the middle class by giving employers too much power over their workers.
“It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions – workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions, and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today,” the president declared in a statement.
Many on the left oppose right-to-work policies. In January, the president reaffirmed his commitment to organized labor by calling for laws that strengthen unions.
“So it’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government,” the president continued.
“So I’m deeply disappointed that a new anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy,” he went onto say. “Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past.”
“So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans – by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave,” the president concluded. “That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy – not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”
Supporters of the policy argue it actually helps workers by allowing economic growth and more job opportunities. The executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, Matt Patterson, argues the law won’t just help workers and employers, it could also help unions as well.
“Right-to-Work means more jobs and, more importantly, more freedom,” Patterson noted. “When unions are forced to attract workers with persuasion instead of force, they become more responsive to their members.”
Research by CWF has found that between 1977 and 2012, employment growth in right-to-work states outpaced the national average, 105 percent to 71 percent. In a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, economists Richard Vedder and Jonathan Robe found that wages actually go up after a state passes a right-to-work law.
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute found in a recent poll of Wisconsin citizens that the state overwhelmingly approves of the policy. The poll found 62 percent would vote in favor of such a law, 32 percent would not and 6 percent didn’t know.
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