Forced Unionization By Betsy Newmark

The Wall Street Journal reports reports on a bill that looks like it will soon pass through Congress with enough votes to withstand a Bush veto.

Unions keep losing membership as a share of the national workforce, which explains why organized labor’s main political focus is changing the rules to force more workers into unions. Witness a bill that Senate Democrats are pushing this week to require that hundreds of thousands of local police and firemen submit to collective bargaining.

Under current law, every state has the ability to set policies that govern its public workforce. In some states, police, firefighters and paramedics belong to unions that collectively bargain for their contracts. In others, unions representing public-security workers can bargain over pay, but not over benefits or work rules. And in some others, these workers can choose not to belong to a union.

Democrats want to change this for the entire country. A bill that passed the House last year would make the top officials at local unions the exclusive bargaining agents for public safety officers in every town or city with more than 5,000 people. They would also have the authority to bargain for everything — pay, benefits and work rules. The goal is to give labor the whip hand with local governments, and further coerce nonunion members to join the dues-paying ranks.

Workers have a guaranteed right to join a union if they want. Now Congress wants to take away their choice and force them to join unions that they haven’t already joined. This is quite a powerful unfunded mandate and would place a big burden on local communities. With quite a few Republicans going along with this bill, it is likely to pass with something approaching a veto-proof majority.

Local officials nationwide are fighting the bill, and the Bush Administration has promised a veto. But the House passed it 314-97, and it may be veto proof. That leaves the Senate, where the bill has 11 Republican co-sponsors, most of whom are up for re-election this fall. Oregon’s Gordon Smith and Minnesota’s Norm Coleman seem to believe that the unions will go easier on them in November if they throw them this concession. Right. If Republicans can’t even oppose monopoly unionization, who needs Republicans?

That would leave the Supreme Court as the last hope to stop this imposition of unionization. I learned after the Court upheld McCain-Feingold not to place my hopes in the Supreme Court.

Put this bill together with the proposal to prevent workers from having a secret ballot when they vote on whether or not to join a union and you can see how politicians, particularly the Democrats, are fulfilling the wishes of their union masters.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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