Workers Desire the Freedom to Choose

An individual’s freedom to choose should extend to the workplace. Currently union representation, and the forced union dues payments that come with it, is often forced on workers whether they like it or not.

It is of little surprise that workers would like more of a say in who represents them and how they spend their hard earned money. A new survey produced by the National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), a coalition with the goal of educating workers on their rights in relation to union membership, confirms this.

The NEFW report polled union members in Right-to-Work (RTW) states, where workers are not forced to pay unions as a condition of employment, and forced unionism states on a variety of questions.

Over 70 percent of union members, in both RTW and forced unionism states, expressed support for the chance to regularly vote on whether to keep their current union representation. Holding what are commonly referred to as union recertification elections is an important policy that would increase workers’ voice at the workplace. Currently, most workers inherit the union that represents them. Less than 10 percent of unionized workers actually voted on their union, according to data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Labor Relations Board.

Another survey question provides more evidence that workers want greater control over their workplace lives. A policy known as “Workers Choice” allows for members-only unions, where workers can choose whether or not to be represented by a union. This eliminates unions’ coercive power to represent all workers whether they like it or not. An individual would be freed from forced union dues and one-size-fits-all collective bargaining agreements that may not meet their needs. Again, a 77-percent majority of union members supported this policy.

Other interesting findings from the survey show that workers in states with greater freedom feel they are more satisfied with their union representation in a variety of areas. This makes sense. In RTW states, workers may opt-out of paying dues to union, though they are still forced to work under a union contract. Forcing unions to earn the approval of workers, and their money, makes labor organizations more responsive to the needs of membership.

I summarized some of these findings in a recent op-ed:

When it comes to satisfaction with collectively bargained wages, 68 percent of union members in right-to-work states were satisfied, compared to 67 percent in forced-union-dues states. Union members in right-to-work states were also more content with working conditions set by a union contract, 77 percent of union members in RTW states, compared to 71 percent of those in non-RTW states.

As the survey finds, there is little difference between worker satisfaction in RTW and forced unionism states. With that, it is past time to give workers the freedom to choose that they desire.