RALEIGH – North Carolina is a ‘Right to Work’ state, meaning, among other things, that an employee, whether private or public, cannot be forced to support or join a union. In fact, the Old North State is one of a couple dozen that smartly banned public sector unions. However, the U.S. House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, is pushing legislation that could undermine North Carolina’s Right to Work laws.
It’s called the ‘Protecting the Right to Organize Act,’ or ‘PRO Act,’ and its sponsors seek to game the system in favor of Big Unions and undercut North Carolinians’ right to work status in the process.
Not if William Messenger of the National Right to Work Foundation has anything to do with it. Messenger, who has argued right to work cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, offered testimony to members of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions on Wednesday, urging them to reject the PRO Act.
In addition to “effectively repealing state Right to Work laws” for private employees, Messenger testified that the PRO Act forces public sector monopoly bargaining on states.
From Messenger’s testimony on Capitol Hill:
“[…] Public-sector monopoly bargaining is such a fundamentally flawed idea that Congress should, at a minimum, leave it up to the states and not get involved. Currently, state labor relations are governed not by federal law, but by state law. Two states, Virginia and North Carolina, do not allow government entities to enter into collective bargaining agreements with unions at all. The 10th Amendment protects the rights of states to set their own policies with regards to labor relations.
For most of American history, federal and state governments rightly refused to engage in union monopoly bargaining. This is due to fundamental differences between the public and private sectors.
In the private sector, negotiations between an employer and a monopoly bargaining representative concern issues that affect that employer and its employees. In the public sector, negotiations between government officials and union representatives concern political issues that affect third-parties: individual citizens. […]”
Imagine the Leftists at the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) having monopoly bargaining power over teacher pay, or state employees as a whole being granted collective bargaining powers over pay, health benefits, and pensions. It’d be a recipe for massive spending increases, holding the North Carolina taxpayers hostage to the desires of Big Government Unions.
Messenger testified to the risks associated with public sector collective bargaining:
“[…] In state after state where unions have gained monopoly bargaining powers in the public sector, costs skyrocket while quality of service declines. But monopoly bargaining allows unions to become the most powerful force in state politics and to pour millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours into electing public officials, allowing unions to sit on both sides of the negotiating table.
We have seen this play out in states like California and Illinois, where unfunded pension obligations and inefficiencies caused by wasteful work rules and featherbedding have set state and local budgets on a glide path toward insolvency. […]”
For the better part of the last decade, Republicans have worked to get the Old North State’s fiscal house in order. They paid down billions in debt to the federal government, reigned in unpredictable spending in Medicaid, and built up sizeable rainy-day funds. They did this all while cutting taxes and maintaining a AAA credit rating from the nation’s top rating agencies.
This is only possible when the people, via the legislative branch of state government, can exercise control over spending. With the PRO Act, and the public sector monopoly bargaining it could bring, that control over spending your tax dollars shifts toward public sector unions.
Does North Carolina want to follow the financial path of California and Illinois? Definitely not, and defeating the PRO Act is the first step in making sure we aren’t pulled down that path against our will.
You can watch Mr. Messenger’s full testimony against, forced unionization, public sector monopoly bargaining, and the PRO Act below.