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National View: On Labor Day, consider injustice of forced union dues

As you shop for back-to-school supplies or food for a Labor Day cookout, consider this: The clerks, shelf stockers, truck drivers, and factory workers who make that possible all can be legally forced to pay money to a union or be fired.

Why? Because Minnesota is one of 23 forced-unionism states in America. In Minnesota, a union official can legally have a worker fired for not paying union dues or fees.

You are not alone if this sounds absurd. According to a national Gallup poll, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans agree: No worker should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

While the Supreme Court's landmark Janus decision in June ended all compelled union payments for public-sector workers, the private-sector workforce in forced-unionism states still can be subjected to compulsory payments to union officials to keep their jobs.

Union bosses in Minnesota enjoy a special privilege that allows them to expand their ranks through compulsion. Union bosses can impose a monopoly bargaining contract, including a forced-dues clause that requires every employee (even the ones who reject union membership) to pay tribute to the union bosses, just for the privilege of having a job.

While forced unionism is just plain wrong, coercing workers into subsidizing union officials also holds back a state's economy. There are now 27 right-to-work states in America which have passed laws to repeal Big Labor's special power to force workers to pay. The absence of forced unionism gives right-to-work states an economic leg-up. According to a National Institute for Labor Relations Research report analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of individuals employed from 2007 to 2017 grew twice as rapidly in right-to-work states as in forced-unionism states: 8.8 percent versus only 4.2 percent.

Furthermore, the institute found that once you adjusted for the cost of living, workers in right-to-work states averaged over $2,200 more in disposable personal income last year than their counterparts in forced-unionism states.

The facts speak for themselves.

So it is no surprise that a growing number of states are eager to cast off Big Labor's chokehold, free their workforces, and realize the economic opportunity of right-to-work legislation. In recent years, five states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, joined the right-to-work ranks.

Right-to-work laws do not outlaw labor unions, and they do not prevent any worker from joining a labor union. Right-to-work laws simply codify one common-sense principle: Every worker should have the choice to join a labor union, and no worker should be forced to pay fees to a union as condition of employment.

As you celebrate Labor Day, consider the benefits of right-to-work. Consider your neighbor that might land a newly created job. Consider the new manufacturing plant that might open its doors. Consider what you might do with an extra $2,200 of spending power in your pocket.

Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (nrtw.org), which is based in Springfield, Va.

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