Senator Kamala Harris is calling for a ban on right-to-work laws, even promising to use her executive authority to remove alleged "barriers" if she's elected president of the United States.
"The barriers to organized labor, being able to organize and strike, are something that have grown over a period of time, and we need to address that," the California Democrat told organizers and union members over the weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. "We need to address that both through legislation but also through the bully pulpit that comes with the president of the United States to speak up about the need and the right that workers have to be able to organize and to fight for their rights."
Mark Mix, president of the National Right To Work Committee, says it's no surprise to see a candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination say as much. In fact, Senator Bernie Sanders told another laborers conference in early April that he would ban right-to-work laws.
"This is political posturing," Mix tells OneNewsNow. "They're looking for the big prize, which is those union endorsements in the nominating process. This is all about [next] February and Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and moving through that process and getting positioned with big labor bosses – and getting in their favor is something that Joe Biden wants to do, that Elizabeth Warren wants to do, that Bernie Sanders has certainly done already, and now Harris is in the game as well."
As for Harris' proposed use of executive authority, Mix points out that presidents would need to go through Congress to do something involving labor law.
"I know that Article II powers are pretty good, but they do not allow the president to overturn a statute," he continues. "Right-to-work laws are legal under federal law under Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947. LBJ tried to repeal it in 1965 – he had to go through the Congress. That was defeated, and politically that was a bloodbath for organized labor and President Johnson's party in that next election."
Still, critics of right to work maintain that it means lower wages, less benefits, and unsafe work conditions. Unions add that they should be compensated for arguing on behalf of workers in a unionized operation, but Mix says workers shouldn't be forced to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment if they do not want to be part of the union.
"Voluntary unionism is something that as an institution is perfectly fine and it is inherently positive for workers if they choose to join together voluntarily, but there's no place for compulsion," he argues. "The other side of the coin is that workers in right-to-work states and individuals in right-to-work states are doing better economically."
Mix supports that argument with numbers. "Private sector job growth is double in right-to-work states over forced unionism states," he offers. "Manufacturing job growth is up, and the actual disposable income that families have in right-to-work states is nearly $4,000 a year higher than those workers in families in forced unionism states."