Thompson Looks to Take on Unions; Wisconsin-Like Labor Battle Coming?

A State Sen. Dave Thompson (R-District 36) led "right to work" amendment is similar to a Wisconsin bill passed last year which targeted unions and caused an uproar.

Earlier this week, State Sen. Dave Thompson (R-District 36) of Lakeville, announced on Twitter and Facebook that he plans to introduce what he is calling an "Employee Freedom Bill" as an amendment to Minnesota's Constitution.

The bill is somewhat similar to a law passed last winter in Wisconsin, referred to as "right-to-work" legislation, which caused massive government protests, but was ultimately passed by a Republican-held legislature.

In a nutshell, right-to-work provisions make it so unions can no longer require membership, or collect dues from non-members who work in a union shop.

Thompson, of Lakeville, represents one precinct in Northfield.

He told KSTP that the bill would give workers the choice to join a union or not. In the event they decline, they don't pay dues, he said. All unions, both public and private, would be affected, but collective bargaining rights would not be altered, he said.

Shar Knutson, who heads the state's AFL-CIO, told MinnPost that she isn't surprised by Thompson's bill.

"What we saw today is identical to what we've seen in Ohio and Wisconsin," she told MinnPost. "This is a national effort being pushed by corporate interests."

Meanwhile, a report issued on Jan. 26 by the Center of the American Experiment said workers in Minnesota would have made between $2,360 to $3,072 more in wages in 2008 if the state had prohibited closed union shops in 1977.

"Instead of being 14th in the nation in per capita income in 2008, the state would almost certainly have been in the top 10," the report, said. 

Knutson told MinnPost she wasn't surprised to see the report numbers, and disregarded them, pointing out that the numbers differ significantly compared to other studies suggesting wages are lower in most "right-to-work" states.

"The fact remains that these laws exist so corporate CEOs can pay their workers less, cut worker benefits and line their own pockets," Knutson told the Pioneer Press.

The key difference between Thompson's bill and Wisconsin's controversial measure, is that Thompson's wouldn't change collective bargaining, he said. The Wisconsin bill stripped most public employee unions of fundamental collective bargaining rights and the battle against the law has been intense.

In this state, similar bills have failed int he past. That could change this year, with Republicans in control the House and Senate, and generally supportive of making Minnesota a so-called "right-to-work" state.

Thompson told MinnPost that the bill is about employees and their rights, not collective bargaining.

"It's about employee freedom," he told MinnPost. "This amendment does nothing to prevent anyone from joining a union or organizing a union. It simply means that you would have a choice whether you want to or not."

Like the marriage amendment passed past year, if this bill is approved by a simple majority in both chambers of the legislature, the issue would go straight to voters in the form of a Constitutional amendment question on the November ballot.

Gov. Mark Dayton, who is opposed to the bill, would not be able to veto the measure.

Popular or unpopular, Thompson told MinnPost he's doing what he believes is the right thing to do.

"I'm here to do what I believe is right," Thompson said. "If that costs me an election in November, so be it."

Phillip Emery January 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM
The end goal of Thompson's bill is to reduce frictional unemployment and, thus, the unemployment and welfare benefits paid out by the government. Whether or not you agree with that is totally dependent on your view of welfare economics. Would you rather see more people out there being productive, being paid a little less, or fewer people being paid a higher wage, and the government providing for those that are unable to find a job due to the higher-than-equilibrium wage level?
Ray Coudret January 31, 2012 at 02:51 AM
This isn't about employing more people at a lower wage. There is no real job growth related to the so called Right To Work amendment. What's really happening in so-called "right to work" states? -Wages are reduced by an average of $1,500 a year, for both union and non-union workers, after accounting for different costs of living in the various states. -These states have a lower likelihood that employees get healthcare or pensions through their jobs—again for both union and nonunion employees. Check out this link for more insight into the data. http://www.epi.org/publication/working-hard-indiana-bad-tortured-uphill/
Jerry Person January 31, 2012 at 04:44 PM
If Wisconsin US attorney was an honest honorable person not a Protection Racket for his fellow republicans. Walker would be in a federal penn. A federal judge in Milwaukee in 1/2011 ordered Milwaukee County to rehire all the people Walker fired. The judge stated Walker mislead the county board on everything. The judge basically stated Walker commit a few dozens of crimes and without any doubt abused his power. The judge stated Walker created a FALSE emergency. The judge detailed Walkers crimes. This has cost the state how many millions? Why is US attorney John Vaudruel protecting Walker and allowing him to continue his reign of terror on the seniors, poor, and or future our children. Is Vaudruels agenda protecting his GOP pals more important than our children? John stop your protection racket. You took forensic evidence exposing the child porn etc. Finish the job and stop obstructing. This is Walker Gate you’re exposing your complete disrespect for the letter of the law and justice. The pillaging of funds from Americans who sacrificed life and limb for this country is infuriating in itself but Walker not arrested is reprehensible.
Jerry Person January 31, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Walker’s chief of??? Cullen Werwie has been given immunity for his crimes against the people. So he will expose all of Walkers Milwaukee staff. Now I must question why is a known criminal not forced or Walker moral or honorable to make the criminal resign. We have Eight for sure criminals who operated a criminal racketeering enterprise all Walker’s key people. Are all Walker’s staff criminals? Where is the 3 billion we are now short? Walker has been telling us since July he balanced the budget then once he has to show the numbers Wisconsin’s has 3 billion dollar deficit and next year will be 6 billion. Walker’s compulsive lying makes me question did you embezzle 9 billion dollars Scooter? I want the money back you stole scooter. NOW. Has Walker embezzled 3 billion working on 6 more?
Peter Lynn Westre February 05, 2012 at 05:04 AM
See http://assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard/ RTW=Race to the Bottom RTW states are much less prosperous for the average family.


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