AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE

Like apple pie, Americans like unions, and union workers love their Country. But, HB-474, pitched as a right-to-work bill, will inhibit workers. Proponents tout that unions lack value, citing declining memberships, e.g., the private sector’s 7% unionization rate and liberty of one over others. The battle against public sector workers, however, proves unions’ value.They performed so well that changed law now weakens union contracts (NH pension reform, evergreen clause, etc.). RTW laws go further to weaken both public and private workers. Law, plus 60 years of judicial activism, caused low private sector unionization rates, and workers’ liberty to contract should trump.

When law allows, unions perform well. That’s their job! Public sector membership is higher, as state law governs; not so for private workers. Federal law governs them and inhibits (though not prohibits) their organizing. Where states allow public unions, workers join.

Here’s proof. In Massachusetts, over 60% of public sector workers enjoy unionization; in NH over 50%; NY 70% unionized. Further proof? Laws allowing unions elsewhere: Sweden 82% unionized; Denmark 76%; Ireland 45%; Canada, England, Germany all over 30%, down from 50% -before businesses moved to China and India.

Our high was 33% (1945). When a 1935 law legalized unions, workers eagerly joined. Shocked, employers pushed the Taft-Hartley law (1947); a Republican Congress overrode Truman’s veto. The law worked; it stopped increased membership rates cold. Next, a 1975 Connell Construction v Plumbers Supreme Court decision cut construction workers’ freedoms to contract and legalized antitrust suits against workers. Construction rates plummeted from 80% unionized to 14%. As law and judges inhibit unionization, the private sector is 93% union-free.

“Not so,” say some. “Unions saw their hey-day; workers choose not to join them,” they argue. OK! Repeal inhibitions to freedoms on whether to join unions, for starters -Taft-Hartley. “No,” say opponents, “Americans would join unions.”

After all, corporations join unions like the US Chamber of Commerce, the NH Business & Industries Association (BIA), and NH-Associated General Contractors –all employer unions with dues paying members. Corporate unions pay big money to keep politicians, judges, and law on their side.

Newspapers, TV stations, and radio shows crave advertising dollars to survive. In exchange, businesses get good press, including editorials and stories against “labor” unions. Their cash plants their seeds in the free marketplace of ideas (an expensive marketplace, by-the-way). Businesses lobby hard, too! Over 90% of registered lobbyists are business related, fewer than 10% worker related. Business unions perform well for their members. That’s their job!

Employer organizing pays off. Federal judges dismiss over 73% of employment cases to favor employers. Under NH’s whistleblower statute, between 2006-2009, workers filed 134 cases, yet lost all but eight -a 94% employer win rate.

Business lawyers claim they do a better job for their clients, but employers did a great job unionizing. Candidates backed by business now control both NH Chambers. That’s value!

Now, some businesses further seek to inhibit workers’ liberty to contract, not by persuasion or contract, but by law. Squeezed, workers can’t be pro-union and anti-business. Unions need many entrepreneurs. Don’t like one company or the union contract? Find another.

The Deep South, where RTW took root, bucked this concept that a Union, once formed, has the right to force the minority that wants out to find their own country. Lincoln, a Republican, refused to break the Union. Similarly, workers who don’t like unions may choose the remaining 93% of the workforce. They don’t, because they love union contracts, yet don’t want to pay the product’s price. That’s not American; it’s stealing. We can’t opt out of taxes, and we value freedom and unity.

Americans love the concept of unity. We boast “e pluribus unum” (from many one) on our Presidential Seal and dollar bills. Even our Founding Fathers argued but ultimately named us the UNITED States. Together, they avoided purist, unbridled corporatism and pure, left-wing paternalism. Between both extremes, they discovered ‘Americanism,’ i.e., free enterprise and people. When they founded this Nation, they rejected writing in our Constitution’s Preamble, ‘in order to form a more perfect economy or business or individual or government.’ They wrote, “in order to form a more perfect UNION….” Individuals excel best by unity, not RTW laws.

NH’s greatest son and orator, Daniel Webster, kept Liberty’s torch lit. He argued that, “Man is a special being, and if left to himself, in an isolated condition, would be one of the weakest creatures; but associated with his kind, he works wonders.” He warned of “delusion and folly” in believing you can separate and choose liberty over union; before the Civil War, he bellowed, “Liberty and Union; now and forever, one and inseparable!”

Rejecting left-wing collectivists and ultra-turbo capitalists relishing a right to work slaves, Mr Webster savored sweet Americanism, apples grown on NH’s family farms, and apple pie.

State Representative Pat Long is also Manchesters Ward 3 Alderman.

Attorney Mickey Long represents both labor and employer unions in NH & in MA where he currently resides