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August 5, 2021

Carl Ford and Virginia Foxx: Union coercion threatens hardworking North Carolinians

By Carl Ford and Virginia Foxx

If you ask Democrats what led to the rise of the middle class, they will credit the labor unions. This could not be further from the truth.

If unions are the bastions of societal progress as they’re claimed to be by the left, then why has there been a mass exodus of workers from unions for decades? Here’s the truth: These hardworking Americans are tired of coercion. They’re tired of being bound by contracts meant only to disenfranchise workers and line the pockets of corrupt union bosses.

Seeing this ever-rising tide of opposition from workers and the related decline in union membership, it’s no surprise that President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress who sing the praises of their union allies are now pushing legislation to change the rules so that unions can flourish. Their solution? The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would overturn right-to-work laws in all 27 states that have them, including North Carolina.

Repealing right-to-work laws would be a calamity. Deciding whether to join a labor organization should be a worker’s decision alone. If this radical scheme is adopted, workers will be forced to pay into a union system without any assurances that union leaders will be held accountable to their members. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that public-sector collective bargaining was an expression of free speech. The PRO Act would deny private-sector workers their First Amendment protections, forcing employees to pay into a system that could violate their personal beliefs and chill workers’ individual freedom.

Free speech isn’t free if it is compulsory.

Yet, Democrats want us to believe that a bill mandating participation in unions is “protecting the right to organize.” Thankfully, Republican-controlled legislatures, like the North Carolina General Assembly, are pushing back against the influence of powerful labor unions.

North Carolina’s right-to-work law has been on the books since 1947. While the law has been untouched for decades, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way.

That’s why Senate Bill 624 is vital for North Carolina’s workforce. It would enshrine the right to work in the state’s Constitution and ensure future generations can go to work knowing they won’t be forced to join a union. No one should feel bullied or coerced to join a union just to earn a paycheck.

In recent years, we’ve seen unions like the North Carolina Association of Educators leave behind their core missions to become a glorified political organization. These unions claim to have the best interests of the workers in mind, but when it comes down to it, individual employees are the best advocates for themselves.

So it’s no surprise that a right-to-work constitutional amendment is wildly popular in the state. A recent poll of likely 2022 general election voters found that 71 percent supported such an amendment. Overturning the right to work violates the will of both workers and voters.

As Republicans, we believe the right of workers to join a union voluntarily must be respected. However, this system works only when labor laws are written with the intention of protecting workers’ rights. Otherwise, the system encourages corruption, requiring workers to pay dues to an entity advocating for its own self-interest instead of the individuals it is meant to serve.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx represents North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. State Senator Carl Ford represents District 33. Foxx and Ford are both Republicans. This column first appeared in the Carolina Journal.

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