Minn. Labor Unions, GOP Fight Over ‘Right To Work’

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota Republicans are preparing to debate a constitutional amendment making union membership voluntary. However, state labor leaders say it’s a “union killer.”

At the headquarters of Minnesota’s largest public employees union, the fight is already underway.

Unions across the state are preparing for what’s called a “right to work” constitutional amendment in Minnesota. They call it: a ‘right to work for less’.

“What we need are good paying jobs,” said Eliot Seide, the leader of Minnesota’s American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “In ‘right to work for less’ states, workers make on average $5,500 less than in the state of Minnesota.”

Union leaders say the amendment is an attack on the labor movement, similar to the last year’s unrest in Wisconsin.

The right to work amendment would effectively make it harder for unions to organize and further erode union membership.

It reads, in part: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not to join a labor union?”

The author of Minnesota’s “right to work” amendment agrees it’s a jobs issue. But he says it’s to make it easier for businesses to create jobs in a tough economy.

If it’s on the ballot, the labor movement is prepared to nationally mobilize to fight it. It’s a fight that’s already started in local union headquarters.

More from Pat Kessler
  • Jack Boot

    Currently you have a right work. As long as you pay off the union. After all, they need their cut so they can donate you money to liberal socialists.

    • Swamp Rat

      @Jack Boot
      This state needs to get on the road to recovery. Let’s worry about ‘right to work’ and union issues at another time. It’s not relevant at this time but a delaying tactic by the GOP/T-Party nitwits.

      • Beavis

        T party… you men the Lipton Loonies?

      • Tom

        @ Swamp Rat

        This is not huge surprise from the GOP as their other biggest concern is stopping gay people from getting married!

  • Richard in Minneapolis

    Why can’t conservatives see that what goes around comes around.

    As long as my employer has the right to fire me without reason at any time I do not have enough confidence as a consumer to go out and buy the goods that will help get the economy humming again. No restaurants, no theaters, no new appliances, no new car.

    When workers feel economically safe they will spend. Is that too difficult a concept?

    • jack

      what a bunch of garbage. who cares how you feel, if you do a good job nobody will fire you.

      • Vote Union YES!

        “If you do a good job nobody will fire you” What a crock, some companies shed employees like water off a ducks back to avoid paying pensions, vacations, and other benefits,

        • The Infidel

          Keep drinking the Kool-Aid Comerade…

          • Vote Union YES!

            Infidels, like you, and Apple, have no idea what you’re are talking about.
            If you haven’t been a union member you have no business telling others what they do, or don’t do for working people. It’s time we stop supporting incompetent, and non-caring management, and companies.

            • The Infidel

              I was a card carrying member of the USW for 15 years so pack sand. Plenty of time to figure out we were being filled with a load of Bull from the Union Leaders. Why should I be forced to join a club I don’t want to belong to? I can think and act for myself. I don’t need a Union and its Lemmings to tell me what to do, how to do it, and who I should be voting for. Then then on top of that, they deduct $ from my paycheck under the guise that it’s “for my own good and benefit.”

              • Vote Union YES!

                I’ve belonged to two unions in different trades, and you sound like one of those who can’t manage to get along with anyone so you started your own business, and can’t manage that either.

                • The Infidel

                  Ha! You have no idea how wrong and far off you are! Typical union mindset. Pigeon hole anyone who doesn’t think like you.

              • Frankie

                In regards to pidgin holing people, read most of the comments, anyone who does not think like the person posting gets ripped. It is too bad you were unable to see the good the union brought to you, like a decent paycheck.

        • Apple

          Four (4) union teachers out of hundreds of poor performing teachers were removed last year. They were removed due to felonious acts. Our education system is broken. We can not remove garbage in our classrooms. Teachers are aware of this. Good teachers have nothing to worry about. Join an union if you want, but do not force me to be a member of an union that protects lazy, incompetent, and non caring employees.

    • Randy

      You are confusing right to work with employment at will. Right to work only states whether an individual has the right to choose whether he/she wants to join a union or not. That is liberty. Employment at will gives the employer the right to fire an employee for whatever reason. If it is not an employment at will contract they can’t fire you without just cause/ Your statement is not true. It has nothing to do with right to work.

    • Waldo

      Your employer SHOULD have the right to fire you at anytime for any reason. That is HIS right. And you can quit anytime you like. It’s called freedom.

      You are not entitled to a job.

  • GOP Hater!

    They are to stupied to know that. They have a degree.

    • GOP not to bad

      Do you mean “They are too stupid to know that”?

  • Win/Win

    Don’t see the problem here

    If you want to join a union no one is stopping you
    If you want to give the union part of your pay check, go ahead

    Just don’t force me to do the same when i might want to work some where that the unions have a monopoly. Because i disagree When union leaders make 6 figure salaries and donate millions to candiates i am against. I woudnt want my hard earned money going to thoes

    • Randy

      Excellent point win win

    • Paul Solinger

      I’m not sure what union leaders make six figures, but I will say this. I have worked in a “right to work” state and the working conditions, pay, and benefits are far worse then in Minnesota. The union dues you pay are for your benefit, and the politicians that get contributions are the ones who actually care about workers.

      This is nothing but a partisan attack by Republicans, and if they put this on the ballot, it is a fight that they can not win. Furthermore, it will hurt all the other Republicans on the ticket. If you thought Unions spent a lot of money before, just wait. You haven’t seen anything yet.

      • Randy

        Paul: Minnesota is not a right to work state. They just proposed going to it. So if our worker conditions are far worse now compared to what you are used to, it has no bearing on right to work. Would you people get your facts straight or just shut up. It;s annoying the ignorance you spew. Your facts are always wrong.

        • Jordan

          Randy, take a second, then take a breath and reread Paul’s statement. He states he “has worked” in a “right to work state.” Referring to the fact he has in the past worked in a “right to work state” where working conditions, pay and benefits were far worse than what they are in Minnesota. Never did he state that Minnesota was a “right to work state.” GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT! AND STOP SPEWING YOUR IGNORANCE! SERVED!

    • One of the 99%

      No one is forcing you to work there. The members who were hired before you, fought through the union (their colleagues) to give the rights to an eight hour work day, two consecutive days off a week, and the wage that you were hired. Now, I would suggest that if you don’t like to be forced as you put it, go work for Wal-Mart or Sam’s club and take what they are willing to give you… Don’t be surprised if one day you will be attacked like our unions are now and without your support, you and I will meet at the community food shelf asking for food. Win/win right…

      • Win/Win

        I work a non union factory job and we have benefits that are so good when i go places for work like the dentist,they comment how good it is and are surprised how much it pays. I have well over 250 hours of personal time off as well.

        If we become right to work we wont be going to 7 day/16 hour work weeks with no paid time off. and children desending into coal mines.

        now you say,” if i dont like it go to walmart”. Well lets say by a miracle we unionized and they didnt close the plant and go to china. Even though I would vote no and try and get as many people as possible to vote no i would end up being FORCED to join and pay dues or quit. My company uses a factory in China to make what we dont have capacity for and guess what? WE in the USA are CHEAPER! thats right american workers with hard wrok managed to get cheaper than china. And i make a fair wage for only having a High school diploma

        its a year old but http://maciverinstitute.com/2011/02/labor-leaders-living-large/ says $161,847 in wisconsin. If you can find current data for MN ill look but thats a 6 figure income no including benefits and golden parachutes.

        • Lose Lose

          What is your pay as compared to an average union workers with the same job? Bureau of labor stattics found it was 25% less for non union than union.

          In regards to China being more expensive, there are factors that drive up the net cost of a product. Shipping would be one. Just in time delivery insteady of having to pay for storage and tieing up money in inventory. A company can return thing here, but not to China.

          Did you bother to look up what the rest of the union officials make? How many unions there are? How the union chief’ss pay compared to other individuals in business heading a similiar sized organization? Did you bother to look up to see what the Wisconsin lawmakers get for a huge pension for minimal service time?

          Since your article brought up Scott Walker, here are the figures for his retirement http://www.wisdems.org/news/press/view/498 and compare them to yours.

    • irv

      Ya, but do then want the benefits that the union gets you, like you pay scale, health and pension benefits? If think that this is good then start looking at states like Georgia, and Florida where average pay is much lower than MN. Oh ya, that means pay for EVERYONE! Not just union members. You need to understand that the unions create a base pay level for all workers, union and non. You don’t like unions, but whether you like it or not you recieve the benefits of them. Pass this bill and the union haters will see their pay go down as well. Thats fact. Already has happen elsewhere.

  • vfpudge

    Ask people in Florida about the right to work..plz dont do it I Came from mn. and been in FL. for 26yrs. If your employer does not like the color of your hair you have he has the right to let you go…plz ask some of the people that moved out of mn to fl.what they think of the working conditions in fl ..I had one job for 20yrs in minn and now I had 20jobs in one year in fl……

    • Randy

      If that is true which I don’t believe, then yu are a worthless employee

      • Lose lose

        You may believe what you want but older workers can tell you stories, as can labor lawyers

    • Ken Meyer


      That, undoubtedly, is why the population of MN has grown so much faster over the last half century vs. that of Florida; i.e. – because .Florida has had much less available employment opportunities.. There HAS been less population growth in Florida, right? And the number of jobs created in Florida over the last four decades or so IS a number vastly lower than that of MN, isn’t it?

      What’s that you say? That is NOT the case? Oh my!

      As for “the right to let you go”, that has absolutely NOTHING to do with “right to work” legislation, and Florida is no different in that respect than Minnesota..

      Beyond that, if Florida is so much worse than Minnesota why did you move TO Florida FROM Minnesota? Given your “RTW” stance, it doesn’t sound reasonable.

  • scott

    Not a good way to legislate. Not good at all. Changing the constitution should ONLY be done when we ABSOLUTELY need too. No matter how much you want something to pass. California has done this, and every election is filled with amendments and propositions. Now they have laws that are almost imposable to remove, or change. If we look beyond are wants right now, and resist the temptation we will be better off. Sometimes the process doesn’t seem to work right away, but it will work out. Forcing the two parties to work together will also be a benefit.

    • Paul Solinger

      I completely agree, Scott. It’s poor leadership when you attempt to change the constitution simply because you can’t get bills passed. I hope the citizens of Minnesota see through this charade.

      • Jack

        Once again they are not changing anything,, they are allowing the voters to decide. This should be on the ballot this year and it will pass along with voter ID> Power to the people.

        • scott

          I’m sorry Jack, you are wrong. This WILL change the constitution. This is how they can get around the process of creating a law the conventional way.

        • scott

          By the way Jack, read the first paragraph. “Minnesota Republicans are preparing to debate a constitutional amendment making union membership voluntary.”

    • Randy

      Let’s get the record strrait. Yes, California is pro union. The public sector union has negotiated pay and particularly pension contracts that are bankrupting the State. They are not gong to make it. They look a lot like Europe. There are approx another 30states that are in dire straits because of union pension contracts. FDR himself said unions don’t belong in the public sector. George Meaney, head of AFL-CIO in the 50’s and 60″s said unions have no business in the public sector because the taxpayers footing the bill have no negotiating rights. The negotiations are taken over by the politicians who then receive campaign contributions from the unions so they can receive campaign contributions from the unions. You want to talk about a ponzi scheme.

      • scott

        Don’t change the constitution. Do not make amendments that should be laws. Do not be short sighted. Look how in the future this method of creating a law will hurt us. Making the two parties work together is a better answer. Holding them accountable is even better.

  • Stop the GOP

    The GOP is just for the rich! When will you all open your eyes and see that! They want it to be the Rich and the Poor. Only the Rich will have health care!

  • Stop them

    The GOP is just for the Rich! When will you all open your eyes and see that! They want it to be the Rich and the Poor. Only the Rich will have health care!

    • GN

      As compared to the whole, the public sector employees are becoming the rich as compared to the private sector worker. If you consider the comparable worth concept, time off, health care benefits, early retirement, and double dipping. Unions in the public sector never should have been. If a constitutional amendment is considered, it needs to outlaw unionization of public employees.

      • What a dumb statement

        Public sector employees rich? Look at the job postings and tell me how you become a millionaire at 30-60k a year. Politicians become rich, not government workers

        • GN

          30-60k plus the benefits equate to about 120-150k per year dumb “A”. How many out there would like to see 120-150k a year? You obviously are a government employee!!

          • Another dumb statement

            Please explain how you got your figures. What 30k a year worker gets 90k of benefits. You are full of cow poo

    • betty

      These people who are submitting comments supporting Republicians are “Blinded by the Right”

      • Ronnie Reg

        Who is blinded here.
        Here are your union presidents of the larger unions
        Andy Stern SEIU
        Richard Trumka AFL-CIO
        Gerald Mcentee AFSCME

        Do a little research on the net and you will find they are members of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party USA. They have openly stated they want the government to take over the means of production and eliminate capitalism altogether. And you don’t want to give individuals the right to not join a union and give their dues to this group of Marxists. Wake up. Name me 1 country that has excelled at Socialism or Communism for any length of time.

  • CJ

    I’d rather be non union and work than be union proud on the bench. A lot of good that so called union security does for you when people can’t afford to hire union contractors. Also, to all you morons that think a “right-to-work” state has ANYTHING to do with at-will employment, please leave my country and open that door for someone willing to take your job. Union or not, right to work or not, you can be fired at any time for most any reason.

    • Ross Perot

      CJ you are spot on. It’s very difficult to argur with stupidity when they don’t know the difference between right to work and employment at will.

  • No to Unions

    What the Unions did in Detroit and at the Ford plant in St. Paul, they sold out the workers. They even tried to unionize illegals.

  • Best3800

    If I were a union hater, why would I want to work in a union shop?go find a job somewhere else, it’s a FREE country



    • Ima

      That is funny considering most of the comments are anti union. Were you promoting violence towards another again or being verbal abusive again?

  • irv

    Florida, “Right To work State” has Jan unemployement at 9.9%. MN, a state with skilled union labor has Jan unemployement at 5.7%. If the unions are so bad then whats going on? SHould be the other way around shouldn’t it. The fact is that the unions are good for the states labor pool and skill level. Everyone benefits from them. Your pay is higher because we have unions in this sate.
    To the other point that this is just about joining or not joining a union. If you don’t join then you should have to negotiate your own salary, benefits, and find your own help when you get cut because you’re pregnant. Unions create fair work practices and higher wages for all. Remember that when you think it doesn’t matter.

    • Ken

      thats why boeing and bmw opened new plants in carolina and toyota opened a new plant in mississippi. how many new plants mn get lately? all manufacturing is moving to right to work states whether you like it or not.

      • Milton Friedman

        3M now considering moving corporate headquarters from Minny.

      • Let them eat cake !!!

        Hello, who is going buy these new cars? Think about that… Plus, you get hurt on the job down there suddenly your job is at risk and you get fired because you were late getting by from a doctor’s appointment because of an on the job injury. Now you are paying your health care yourself and look for another job, or should I say two part-time jobs… At least the state of Minnesota has its own OSHA department you can go to make work safer; down there you wait for Federal OSHA to show up. Lastly Minnesota is not close to Mexico and look at the sticker on the new cars these day they have the % of manufacture location on them, most of the work done on the cars are from Mexico, not America. There are not opening new plants in Canada either, but you can go to the doctor. If the legislators need to attack some big bad entity go after Heath Insurance companies and not the worker unions.

  • G Dog

    If you like slavery, you’ll LOVE right to work.

    • June

      That statement is unbelievable off topic and stupid.

      Are you a public school teacher?

      • scott

        And yours is meant to be mean and derogatory..

        • Frank

          Hi semoone. Not really. I did not base it on that. I just used it as an example. It’s just that most of my friends abroad always tell me that people’s first impression of them is like that.But yeah, I feel you especially re your last paragraph. Most of my non-Pinoy friends always tell me that some of their lot find our being-so-proud-yeah-we’ll-rub-it-in when it comes to our achievements annoying sometimes, especially on the Web.and the Kurakot part. the sadder part is, you know there’s truth in that.Hey, thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your comment. It makes me rethink a number of things, actually.

  • Freedom to choice

    Its a joke that anyone would have to be forced to join a union for a job. No offense but I already pay enough in taxes and the last thing I want to do is pay union dues and for what. Joining a union for a job should be optional if you want to join great if not then you should not be forced to quit or get another job. Unions are scared of this possibility because they know most people would choice not to join the union. I always go back to the Northwest Airline Mechanics who went on strike instead of taking a pay cut because there unions told them to strike. If I am not mistaken most to not all those jobs were replaced by non union member that Northwest hired and all of the mechanics that went on strike lost there jobs in the end. Good job Unions.

    • Wait until your co-work tells you they get paid more than you!

      The unions don’t have a choice to not represent no share workers or fair share workers at their cost when you ask for it or when they negotiate you a new pay rate or anything else you want as a worker. If you let this happen you are just weakening your own position as an individual and all worker alike… PS don’t take a job where there are unions workers why should you get their benefits right off the bat. If this happens soon you will have the right to work for all of your benefits over again, if any.

      • Jason

        @ wait untill……..Okay let me try this…. that would be said persons CHOICE. Get it some people dont like to be forced into servitude. We have had enough.

  • b

    republicans always find a non important issue to bring up so they dont have to face the real issues

    • I neda Life

      Like a Vikings Stadium?

  • Jason

    The first paragraph say it all. If the union allows membership to be voluntary they will cease to exist. Stop the forced will of unoin thugs upon us now! What happend to freedom of choice?

  • GOP

    If unoins are broken than everyones health care and benefits will go away. There will be no more benefits and everyone will get 5.00 $ and hour. It is your chouce to work ware you work. If you dont like unoins Do Not work there! Shut up and work some one that does not have unoins. I think that everyone should have unoins so the the rich cant cut things. I am so sick of all of you!

  • Feeding the fisshes

    Being forced to join a union in order to earn a living is no better than paying the mob so your “store will not burn down”. The only difference is extortion is illegal.

  • http://gologor.com/?p=1028 Unions buy into March 24 election with third-party campaigns | Google Blog

    […] Minn. Labor Unions, GOP Fight Over 'Right To Work' However, state work leaders contend it's the “union killer.” At the domicile of Minnesota's largest open employees union, the quarrel is already underway. Unions opposite the state have been scheming for what's called the “right to work” inherent legislative addition … Read some-more upon CBS Local […]

  • ron

    The union took over 500 dollars from me for imitation fees then they took all my vacation fund then i lost my job, they are a worthless outfit and have outlived their usefulness they are as corrupt as the day is long, they support socialist democrats, they support obama who has turned out to be a illegitimate president who is going to be deported

  • http://lrionline.com/right-to-work-in-minnesota Right to Work... In Minnesota? «

    […] or subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Don’t adjust your web browser. Minnesota is considering a Right to Work constitutional amendment. In case you were under the impression that Minnesotans loved unions get a look at the comments on […]

  • http://new.uwua.net/2012/uwua-e-news-1312012/ UWUA E-News 1/31/2012 « UWUA Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO

    […] Labor Unions, GOP Fight Over ‘Right To Work’ Share “What we need are good paying jobs,” said Eliot Seide, the leader of Minnesota’s American […]

  • http://new.uwua.net/2012/uwua-e-news-1312012.html UWUA E-News 1/31/2012 « UWUA Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIOUWUA Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO

    […] Labor Unions, GOP Fight Over ‘Right To Work’ Share “What we need are good paying jobs,” said Eliot Seide, the leader of Minnesota’s American […]

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