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Legislation to Repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Ac

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Legislation to Repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act

Madam Speaker, in about a week, I will introduce legislation to repeal the infamous section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act and to rid this country once and for all of the so-called Right To Work statutes in 21 or 22 of our States.

Now, section 14(b) of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act allows States to pass the so-called Right To Work laws, which strip unions of the right to charge fees even when they negotiate the contract that the employee works under.

Section 14(b) has been controversial from its inception. It was vetoed by President Truman. It became law only overriding that veto. What we have now is a network of different labor laws in different States that pits the workers in one State against another, that pits businesses in one State against another, that creates an unlevel playing field for businesses in one State as opposed to businesses in another State.

So-called Right to Work is union busting. It is that simple. Right to Work strips unions of their ability to require payment for the contract negotiation that they do. It is designed to encourage free riders and to weaken and destroy unions.

Every worker benefits from the union contract, but under so-called Right to Work laws, some pay absolutely nothing to the union that negotiates that contract. That encourages others to choose to pay nothing, and eventually the union unravels. That is exactly what has happened in the 22 so-called right-to-work States.

Now, Right to Work States have significantly lower unionization rates than do other States. The unionization rate in my State of California is 18 percent; in New York, 26 percent; in Washington State, 21 percent; in Wisconsin, 16 percent; in New Jersey and Michigan, 21 percent. None of those States have so-called Right to Work statutes. In contrast, such right-to-work States such as Texas, Arkansas, Utah and Georgia, have only 6 percent unionization rates, and North Carolina, with its Right to Work laws, has an only 4 percent unionization rate.

Now, it can be alleged that those who are in right-to-work States don't need unions. They enjoy great pay and great working conditions. Well, let's look at the facts. The average worker in a so-called Right to Work State makes $5,333 less per year than a worker in a free bargaining State. That is a comparison of $35,500 on the one hand, with $30,167 on the other. Some 21 percent more people lack health insurance in Right to Work States as compared with free bargaining States. And as for workplace and safety, workplace deaths are 51 percent higher in States with so-called Right to Work laws.

It is time that we repeal section 14(b). It is time that we let unions organize and time that we allow workers who want to have a union, to enjoy that right.

I serve as the Chair of the subcommittee of Foreign Affairs Committee with jurisdiction over trade issues, including the International Labor Organization. The ILO is the official international organization affiliated with the United Nations that sets labor standards. It is clear that our Right to Work laws violate international labor standards. The National Organization of Manufacturers acknowledged this just a few days ago when they pointed out that while Right to Work laws probably violate the ILO core conventions, we as a country have not ratified those core conventions. So a country that should be in the forefront of the world, in the forefront of human rights, civil rights and labor rights, has in 22 of its States laws that violate the ILO core convention.

It is time for America to stand in the forefront of human rights, civil rights and labor rights. It is time to end so-called Right to Work.

I urge my colleagues to contact me if they are interested in being original cosponsors of this legislation.

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