Influential political advocate Grover Norquist says right-to-work policies are not just good for employees and employers, they’re also good for unions.
Norquist, who founded Americans for Tax Reform, is known for his opposition to tax increases but has also advocated for polices that would prevent mandatory union membership or dues as a condition of employment.
“Right-to-work laws obviously help workers first because they say you can’t be forced to join a union as a condition of employment,” Norquist told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It helps businesses and the general economy because if you make the labor market less sclerotic it’s just better for everybody,” Norquist explained. “At the end of the day, it helps unions because it saves their soul.”
The policy, which has passed in 24 states, has faced adamant opposition from many labor unions and other left-leaning organizations. Advocates argue that it should be the choice of a worker on whether they want to join a union, while opponents claim it hurts workers because it allows employers to take advantage of them.
Norquist argues that it is beneficial to the relationship between workers and unions because it compels the union to offer a better service so it doesn’t lose members.
“They’re not stealing people’s money and punching them in the head, they’re trying to provide a service and say, ‘we do this useful thing over here, would you like to work with us?’” Norquist noted.
“At the end of the day it’s healthier, but I don’t expect they can raise as much money in the market as they can stealing it from everybody,” he argued. “That’s why they’ll fight it at first.”
“Does this mean there’ll be no unions, no,” Norquist said. “There’s a role for unions if there’s a role for unions. Who will decide, the market will decide, workers will decide but what you don’t want is the government coming in and saying ‘if a small percentage of the population wants a union, not only are you stuck with it, everybody who works in this company has to unionize forever.’”
Norquist noted that one big problem in current labor law is that unions often times don’t have to be renewed. If a worker gets employed at a company that is already unionized, then they must join the union even if none of the original workers who voted in favor of the union are still there.
“All those public sector unions, those unions were created in the 1950s,” he explained.
Norquist pointed to Act 10 in Wisconsin as an example of how to prevent such a trap. During his first term, Gov. Scott Walker became a target for many national unions when he worked with the state Republican legislature to pass Act 10, a labor reform initiative. The act significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees within the state. It also required public unions to hold a renewal vote ever couple of years to determine if workers still wanted them.
“If you don’t vote, it disappears, if you vote ‘no’ it ceases to exist, legally, and if you vote yes it can continue,” Norquist said.
Americans for the most part approve of right-to-work laws. According to Gallup, union approval is at 53 percent while right-to-work is at 71 percent.
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