Where's Fair Share?

It’s being held up in the house by around ten Democratic legislators who are all either firm no votes or on the fence.  A disproportionate number of them are women, suggesting that Speaker Pat Murphy’s strong-arm tactics might not work so well on legislators of the fairer sex.  Whatever the problem with getting these legislators on board, it almost goes without saying that they are wrong for holding out.  Almost.

If one were feeling charitable, one might say that they are merely confused.  If Fair Share is about people paying a fair share for the specific services provided them by the union, then why would there be any opposition to amendments designed to restrict the fee to the specific costs of representing individual workers?  Good question.

In truth, Fair Share is as much about employees paying their fair share as Right To Work is about people having the right to work.  The ability for unions to control who could or couldn’t work for any particular employer ended with the Taft-Hartley act, way back in 1947.  Now, even in the most union-friendly set up available to states, employees can be required to join a union after they are hired but cannot be fired merely because the union rejects them for one reason or another.  Everyone has a right to work to work in every state for every employer as far as unions are concerned, so there is no reason for Iowa to restrict unions further.

What this is really about is whether Iowa should be an open-shop state (no) or a union-shop state (yes).  Unions are a good thing, and unions should be stronger.  Union-shop states have much higher overall wages – $6000 more for the median household income.  While their economies may not be growing as quickly, they tend to already be strong.  Out of the twenty poorest states in the country, fourteen are open shop states.  That’s bad by itself, but even worse when you realize there are only twenty-two open shop states total.  Out of the top ten richest states, nine are union shop.  (This data brought to you today by the National Right To Work Foundation, the U.S. Census and Math.)

Most of this is academic though, since enough of the legislators holding out signed pledges that they would support Fair Share legislation if it came up.  Anyone who goes back on their word now – I’m looking at you Doris Kelley – deserves a vigorous (and I suspect well-funded) primary in 2008.

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