Indiana is in the process of passing Right To Work

Legislation we need your help today!


The Chicago Federation of Labor will continue to support our brothers and sisters in Indiana with their fight against Right to Work. The phone banks will continue to be held at:

IUOE Local 399; located at 2260 S. Grove Chicago, IL


IUOE Local 150; located at 6200 Joliet Road, Countryside, IL

Phone banking will be held from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on the following dates:                        

Wed, Jan11, 2012      Thurs, Jan 12, 2012     Fri, Jan 13, 2012     Mon, Jan 16, 2012    Tues, Jan 17, 2012


If you have any questions please contact the Chicago Federation of Labor at 312.222.1000. In Unity, On the behalf of Robert G. Reiter Jr., Secretary Treasurer, Chicago Federation of Labor

"Proud to be a Pile Driver/Commercial Divers"







Post-Tribune Opinion              Sunday, August 21, 2011,  POST-TRIB.COM


‘Right-to-work’ a step back for Indiana

Right-to-work legislation is back on our state legislative agenda. It can be challenging to cut through the jungle of arguments for and against this so-called "right to work."

     What, after all, is this "right" and where did it come from?

The recognition by our Founding Fathers of the importance of individual rights led to the drafting of our Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Bill of Rights, that establishes the right to a job or the right to work.

     In fact, the Bill of Rights does not even apply inside private work places. We leave those rights at the door.

After a century of protest, Congress finally passed legislation to cover private work places – the National Labor Relations Act (1935). The NLRA did not establish an individual’s right to work, but it did at long last, recognize that individuals need the right to organize collectively, in order to have a voice in regulating working conditions in private work places. It established the beginning of an Industrial democracy to complement our political Democracy.

     We still have no universal right to work, although in times like these, we would applaud such an initiative. We do have laws that protect us from arbitrary discrimination in hiring, but they, too, are based on group characteristics.

     What, then, does right-to-work legislation entail? Basically, such legislation makes it illegal to require workers to pay union dues in a unionized work place. But, you might ask, how then can unions protect the collective good of their members if individuals in the group can ignore the collective will?

     So-called right-to-work legislation allows one individual’s right to cancel out the rights of the larger community. This undermining of collective rights was the core change introduced by Taft-Hartley, an amendment to the NLRA passed in 1947. The Taft-Hartley Act exempted individuals from adhering to the collective rights established under the original NLRA.

     A common claim of right-to-work supporters is that Indiana could attract more jobs if we had right-to-work.

     How so? By dramatically weakening and potentially eliminating union-standards, right-to-work laws would allow employers to return

to the days of the 1890s or the 1920s when workers had no union and were subjected to miserable wages and inhumane working conditions. This return to abject poverty would make U.S. workers competitive in Third World counties.

     Since the jobs that left Indiana (hundreds of thousands) did not go to right-to-work states, but rather overseas to compete, we would have to embrace the "right" to work under Third World conditions.

     A second view argues that it is unfair to make workers join or support a union if they hire into a unionized work place.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, provided a very persuasive counter-argument. Think of a condo or closed community, she said recently. You do not have a right to live there, but you can apply. You pay not only for housing but you will be required to pay a maintenance fee to keep the condo or community an appealing place to live.

      Could you move in and refuse to pay maintenance fees? Not for long!

Unions charge dues in order to make a work place an attractive and safe place to work. Would we pass a law to protect freeloaders in a condo? I do not think so.

     So why would we pass a law to undermine the quality of work life in the name of an individual who wants the benefits without the costs? Our laws establish guidelines for the public good, not for individual preference.

     Most workers in this country know that if you want a good job with decent pay and benefits, you look for a unionized work place. If you want to avoid paying union dues, then work where you will not be "bothered" by better pay, fairer standards, decent benefits or of course, union dues.

If Indiana passes a right-to-work bill, we can expect declining wages and benefits, an increased use of temporary, subcontracted and prison labor, and an overall decline in the health of our communities.


Ruth Needleman is professor emeritus, Indiana University Northwest, and professor and director of Leadership and Social Change at Calumet College of St Joseph.