“Right-to-Work” is a phrase cleverly crafted to sound like a positive plan with benefits for workers and society in general. In reality, it provides neither.
While its tenets are intended to impact unions and union leadership, it reaches much farther, negatively impacting all workers and their communities at large. Proposition A states that workers can work somewhere without having to join a union.
Since unions represent all workers, it was previously admissible (but not since the recent Janus decision by the Supreme Court earlier this month) for unions to require dues for services supplied to all, regardless of whether or not the worker was a union member.
Proposition A makes it illegal for workers and administration to negotiate these fees.
So, without the ability to recoup these expenses, the union is present but less effective. So, the shift in power is toward management and away from the ability of workers to voice basic demands, and ultimately improve their lives.
That impacts workers through lower wages, reduced retirement plans, and a loss of access to affordable health care, including drug, vision and dental plans.
These rollbacks affect all workers, not just union members. Limiting the economic viability of workers has a negative ripple effect on their communities financially, politically, socially and spiritually.
Financially, weak unions will result in lower wages and benefits, which decreases the spending power of the tax base for a community. This negatively impacts the local economy which first impacts small businesses.
Jobs leave the area and the community is unable to draw new businesses.
A reduced tax base leaves less money available for quality public schools and other community services. People move away, and a downward economic spiral ensues, leading to loss of property value and sometimes urban decay.
A weaker economy also has political implications, in the sense that it results in the consolidation of power at the top, benefiting those with higher socioeconomic status. This results in even less power for workers to negotiate for protections.
Also, weaker unions mean less organized ability to advocate for social justice issues and progressive campaigns.
With decreasing political power, there is less ability to protect workers’ rights and the middle-class way of life.
Socially, a system skewed to benefit the higher socioeconomic groups highlights social inequality which is exacerbated by poverty. With less power and economic resources, people lose access to public goods, opportunity and quality of life.
This makes people angry, and a sense of powerlessness increases a culture of blame, whereby people select a scapegoat for their worries.
Often, those of a lower socioeconomic status, minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community and immigrant populations become targets for their rage.
Horrific actions and policies can result, leaving disenfranchised groups feeling even more victimized and powerless.
Feeling powerless permeates all areas of life and may increase feelings of isolation and depression. This impacts individuals and communities on a spiritual level as evidenced by higher rates of depression, suicide and opioid addiction.
These are social maladies that receive fewer resources as the socioeconomic divide increases and fewer progressives enact policy.
This Aug. 7, there is a lot at stake for you and your community. Proposition A is not just about unions, it’s about all of us.
Whether or not you belong to the 10 percent of Missouri citizens who are union members, understand that Proposition A is an attack on our entire community.
Vote NO on Proposition A this Aug. 7. July 11 is the last day to register for this election. Please make sure you are registered and come out and vote! Those in favor of Prop A are counting on you staying home!
Noelle Gilzow is a public school teacher, advocate, mother, wife and citizen.