George Wilson: What 47 is really about
October 8, 2008
To the editor:
I have been reading the letters about Amendment 47, and I thought I would tell you what I know about this issue.
First, do not mistake what Amendment 47 is about. It’s not about joining a union. Federal labor laws already say that you cannot be forced to join a union. Second, it’s not about whether you have a right to work or get a job like the title says. You can be hired by any employer who wants to hire you.
Federal labor laws say that if you work for a company that has a union contract, you have all the rights and benefits from the union whether you are a member or not. That’s called “Duty of Fair Representation.” The labor laws also allow for what is called a “Union Security Clause” in their contract. That vote has to pass by 75 percent or more. That means a supermajority of the employees want it in their contract. A “Union Security Clause” says that all employees who benefit from the union contract will help share in the expense of what it cost to operate the local union. That is done with dues.
Amendment 47 is a direct attack on the “Union Security Clause.” The employees’ dues are the lifeblood of a union; like any other business, it takes money to operate. If Amendment 47 passes, employees will be allowed to reap all benefits of a union and their contract without the obligation of helping to pay for those benefits. This is how companies and big corporations weaken your voice – by dividing and conquering.
There have been many attempts during the years to have a Right to Work law passed through the Colorado Legislature. Even when the Colorado House and Senate were controlled by the Republicans, they voted not to have these kinds of laws for Colorado. They knew that these laws would hurt Colorado’s economy. Colorado is surrounded by Right to Work states. On average, families in those states earn almost $4,000 less per year than Colorado families. When you have good union jobs in your community, it also makes the prevailing wages higher for everyone, whether you are on a union job or not. With weak union jobs, like the surrounding states, all wages are suppressed, which trickle down to the state and local economies. That means less money for people to spend on things such as going out to eat, less money for entertainment, like going to the movies, less money for toys, like snow machines, four wheelers, firearms, less money to do home repairs, less money for hardware stores, even less money for charities such as the United Way. These are the reasons the Colorado Legislature always had voted “no” on so-called Right to Work laws. They are really a right to work for less.
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The voters of Colorado need to say “no” to big companies and corporations like Jake Jabs and the Coors family, who brought the out-of-state interest here to put this issue on the ballot as a change to the Colorado Constitution. They couldn’t fool the Colorado Legislature, so now they are trying to fool you, the voter. This is not a union issue like they want you to think, or a right to work. Unions always have worked for good-paying Colorado jobs. Colorado’s hard-working union and non-union workers need to protect their rights and protect their state and local economies. I urge you to vote “no” on Amendment 47.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Local 111 assistant business manager