New National “Right to Work” Bill Threatens Hollywood Unions

Legislation introduced in Congress with little fanfare Tuesday could decimate Hollywood unions and further accelerate the decline of unions nationwide by allowing workers across the country to opt out of paying union dues or fees even if they receive the benefits of a union-negotiated contract.The result, union activists contend, would be to bankrupt unions nationwide by starving them of dues or other fees paid in lieu of dues. That would appear to be a welcome result for both management and Republicans, as unions are one of the few institutional supports left for the Democratic party, even though many union members apparently voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.Similar statutes, referred to as Right to Work laws, exist in 27 states, including such newer production centers as Georgia, Louisiana and Florida. The new bill, H.R. 744, which Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced in the House, would extend right to work to all states nationwide.Under current law, workers in non-right to work states, such as California and New York, can elect so-called financial core, or fi-core, status under which they are not required to join a union. Someone who goes fi-core — a choice that only about 1 percent of Hollywood union members have made — must pay “agency” or “fair share” fees in lieu of dues to finance the union’s work from which they benefit. Those fees can be around 90 percent of full dues, as fi-core members have no obligation to pay for a union’s political work.”The National Right to Work Act will … eras[e] the forced-dues clauses in federal statute without adding a single letter to federal law,” said King. His co-sponsor, Wilson, said, “At least 80 percent of Americans are opposed to forcing employees to pay dues as a condition of their employment. … We need to expand common-sense reforms … to protect American workers and create jobs.”But ranking Democrats on the relevant House committees fired back.

“This legislation clearly has one purpose: to undermine the capacity of unions to protect workers and defund them,” said Reps. Bobby Scott (VA) and Peter DeFazio (OR) in a joint statement. “This bill is a direct attack on workers and their families by weakening unions’ ability to collectively bargain and negotiate for good wages and benefits. Studies show that diminishing unions leads to lower wages and salaries for union and non-union workers alike. This is why wages are lower in so-called right to work (RTW) states than those that are not, costing families up to thousands of dollars each year.”

They added, “The RTW bill is a backdoor attempt at bankrupting labor unions, forcing them to provide services for people who do not pay dues. This radical bill would create an unfunded federal mandate that overrides a state’s wishes by requiring private labor organizations to support free riders without limitation. This bill is nothing more than a gift to anti-worker special interests.”

Hollywood unions and guilds, and the AMPTP studio alliance, did not immediately offer comment.

The Cartoon pretty well says it all.


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