Weighing In On Proposed ‘Right To Work’ Amendment

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Republicans have proposed a “right to work” amendment to the state Constitution.

They say they want voters to decide whether people should be forced to join a union as a condition of their employment.

If the amendment passes, it will allow people who choose not to be part of the union, not to pay dues. It’s one of several proposals to change the state Constitution at the legislature.

Esme Murphy had several people on her WCCO Sunday Morning show to weigh in on the topic, including Rep. Kurt Zellers and Executive Director of the AFSCME Council 5 Eliot Seide. Watch the full interviews below.

Interview With Rep. Kurt Zellers

Interview With Eliot Seide

More from Esme Murphy
  • The Crux of the Buscuit

    Anything to bust unions. Next they will want a law that states they don’t have to pay taxes, oh, never mind, most of them don’t already……..

    • GN

      A better amendment would be to outlaw unions in the public sector. Some companies in the private sector deserve unions but not many. Aren’t many places where you can retire by 50, get paid a pension with health care benefits, go back to work at full pay at the same job and basically collect double pay. The “Crux” is that government employees live too long and their retirement eligibility dates have never been adjusted to increased longevity whereas the private sector the government continually looking at creative ways to force people to work till they keel over dead, except farmers. Their on retirement 300 days per year.

      • whatever

        Hey GN, where aside from politians can you retire when your 50? oh wait…pro athletes also.

    • Ordinary Guy

      The problem is not worker demands, but that we’ve given away all of our tax-paying jobs to the “world economy” subsistence workers, and replaced it with non-taxpaying imported products. We think we can have it both ways, but it’s a lie.

  • Jack Booted Thug

    If you don’t join my union and give me money, you can’t work here.

    The law is protecting us and we want to keep it that way.

    • Swamp Fox

      WRONG!!! Nitwit!
      Your fired!

      This law is an excuse for the GOP Legislature to stall on other needed issues. Why even bother with this issue if there are no jobs if affects?

      Think about it!!

      • Foxier

        I think your name gives you away. We all know grimey slim-balls live in the swamp. I am all for unions, but workers should not be required to join them. Now if there were 3 or 4 unions per work place, where unions were forced to compete for members, everyone would win. But that isn’t the case.

      • Raoul Duke

        Swamp Fox! Swamp Fox!
        Tail on his hat!
        Nobody knows where the Swamp Fox is at!!!

        Long live the Swamp Fox!!

  • sue

    Look what the Unions did to Detroit, they would not budge on the contracts and sold out the workers. Unemployment in Detroit is at 18 to 22% depending on who you ask. Pass the Right to Work bill and tell these Unions to stop taking YOUR money.

    • Swamp Fox

      The unions help build Detroit as well as hurt it! The same holds true for the big corporations that made billions and went bankrupt. You don’t need “Right-to-Work” labor amendments to have unions clean up their acts or have corporations do likewise. The unions are coming back into the 21st century labor mainstream as well as the corporations who need the skilled union labor.

      The days of destructive behaviors on both sides are over if American industry is to thrive. It’s a two way street business and unions need each other. Both sides can see the light of harmony and wisdom if they so chose. Right-to-work enactments only muddle the employment playing field.

      Unfortunately, too much hate and ignorance blind the constituencies from seeing that passing these labor laws are unnecessary and a political covering-up of the real issues at facing the people—The economy and jobs. Think about this!!!

      • Foxier

        Swampy, you need to think about it. You are saying that one group should control employment opportunities for all workers. The single union option for workers is unrealistic. Non-union workers who work hard and do their best get rewarded. Union-workers who work hard are told be the union bosses to work slower. Then when there are layoffs, the most senior workers stay, not the best workers. Think about it!!!!

        • jimmy

          Foxier your box does not fit all unions. I have been union for 40 years and we have no seniority, never have. No union boss has ever told me to slow down. Now go make up something else.

          • mike

            Seniority? Hey folks, there is NO SUCH THING as seniority! Whether your workplace is unionized or not, seniority is nothing more than a myth in any
            type of work industry! Get used to it, and these GOP lawmakers with their
            “Right To Work” proposals will even make it even more than a myth!
            Think about it!

    • jimmy

      Unemployment in Detroit is at 18 to 22% depending on what idiot talk radio fool you’re listening to. There I fixed it for you.

      The rate in Detroit is 11.2 according to the latest figures.

      • Citizen

        Just read an article on MSN.com that listed the top 5 “most horrible places to live”. Detroit is number 1. Keep up the good work unions!

        • yours truley

          only 3 states on the top 10 places to live are right to work according to cnn money. i’d say unions are doing a pretty good job. keep pushing right to work.

  • Swamp Fox

    To the Legislature via way of Esme’s Blogs:
    Why don’t you folks stop making up constitutional amendments and do your jobs? Your job, as the people elected you to do, is to pass legislation that gets Minnesota on the economy road to recovery, balance the state budget, and create the environment to get people working again. Most social issues can wait until this state has the time to address them.

    Governing by amendments and social issues only make matters worse for everybody.

    Why bother with Right-to-Work anti-union laws when there are no new jobs that need this scrutiny? Why bother with gay marriage issues when you are using these issues to further politically tear apart this state?

    Where are the public works and infrastructure jobs that we need to keep this running and progressing the future? And, where are the needed statutory reforms concerning taxes, social welfare, and full employment that are urgently necessary?

    Constitutional amendments are not warranted or necessary when the Legislature use them as a lazy way to avoid doing their elected jobs. Neither are amendments necessary when they are used as excuses not to pass disagreeable legislation that is not politically correct but are beneficial/needed to benefit Minnesota in the long term.

    Sooner or later, governing by amendments will make a mockery of the state’s constitution by weakening it and making it useless. You only have to look at California to see what amendments have done to its constitution. Also, amendments are hard to repeal if unjust. In California’s case we are beginning to see amendments to the amendments! Is that what you want for Minnesota??? Think about it!!!

    • sue

      @Swamp Thing Please learn how to spin something, and learn how the government of Minnesota works. When you mention California you might just take a look back a week and see how easy it was for their Amendment to be repealed by the Feds. We are governed by the courts it seems like the votes of the people were thrown out the door.

      • jimmy

        Calif Prop 8 was not an amendment, get your facts straight.

        • sue

          @Julie yes it was, because it was a Prop. its still the same thing

          • jimmy

            @sue When you learn the difference between a law and a constitutional amendment, feel free to share that information with your friends.

            • sue

              @jimbo A Constitutional Amendment voted on by the people of Minnesota is the same as a Prop voted on by the people of CA, what dont u get?

      • Swamp Fox

        I am not spinning anything!!! I do know how Minnesota government works! At present, “It ain’t working!” You don’t need a political science degree to see that!

        Love your comments about repeal of a California amendment by the courts. If the amendment was legislation to begin with it would have scrutinized by governor’s veto, redone and then passed/vetoed, or, then tabled.

        Funny how you just mentioned letting the courts ‘govern’; that’s not their job. Their job is a Constitutional checks-&-balance one versus the executive and legislative branches of government.

        In the CA example, you mentioned, the CA Assembly{?} passed the amendment measure to be voted on by the people. However, when the amendment became law it was challenged and taken to the courts.

        The courts decided if it met Constitutional and legal parameters. It didn’t, so, it’s back to legal square one. The peoples’ votes “were (not) thrown out the door”! The amendment was “ruled” unconstitutional. It needs to be redone or tabled. That’s the American Constitution and system at work–It’s a matter of governance checks-&-balances .That’s NOT governing by the courts! Again, that is the American system working as it should! Where is the spin in that??

        • sue

          @Swampy The fed Courts over turned it, they took the voting rights of the people away, and they also over stepped on State rights!!! What right does the Feds have over the people of CA in that? NONE!

          • Swamp Fox

            Whoa!!! Slow down a bit! The Federal Courts didn’t take any voters rights away! They overturned an state’s amendment that they ruled was NOT constitutional to the standards of the US Constitution, relevant US Codes(statutes), and relevant California statutes.

            The US Constitution, Federal statutes, and legal case precedents supersede state constitutions, statutes, and precedents when tried, argued over, and decided upon or ruled upon. The state has to prove its case law or precedents. That’s they way it has been since the US Constitution was written.

            Are you telling me the US Constitution has no bearing on this case or issue? Let’s hear it!!!

            p.s.; And, the name is not “Swampy”! It’s Swamp Fox and it does have American historical significance!

            • Sue

              @Swampy Did you read what I wrote or just look at what you wanted to. The Federal government has in the last 10 years stepped over States rights. That was my point about the Feds:) If they did not in the CA case, please explain to me how they didn’t? Thanks swampy:)

              • Swamp Fox

                We digressing or deviating partially from the main discussion topic. Don’t have time to debate states’ rights issues vs Constitutional precedents or Supreme Court decisions over such.

                It’s ironic you mention the people’s rights being taken away by the Federal Government et.al. but who is the government? Isn’t it the people? Then why then this paradoxical dilemma over people’s rights, states’ rights, and Federal government rights?

                My moniker’s namesake had this same dilemma during the Revolutionary War. Ironic isn’t it? How is that for American politics?

                • sue

                  @Swampy please except my apology, I did not realize you went to a public school. If it will make you happy I will take a sensitivity training class.

    • Foxier

      There should not be public works projects. We don’t want/need a government to create jobs. That is what the private sector is for. Big government doesn’t work. Just look at Greece and another dozen countries in europe. They are dying under the weight of big government and lazy, inefficient union wokers…just showing up to pick up their checks…sound familiar Mr. Union?

      • mark

        well said Foxier, Unions are just another entitlement group

      • paul

        you sooooooooooooooo wrong foxier NOT ALL UION WORKERS ARE LAZY AND INEFFCIENT get your facts straight maybe you would like to try ad keep up with me while I do my UNION JOB !!!!!!! I don’t think you could keep up !

        • get real

          Hey foxier let me ask you this….what organization requires their workers to undergo so many hours of training EVERY year so their skills are up to par and they put out a good quality product?? UNIONS!! your electricians union, your carpenters union, plus many more. Many of your construction workers (roofers) can’t even speak english yet alone do the training. There is no way I would hire a non union construction worker for any reason. I want someone who is a skilled creftsman, not a back yard carpenter.

  • CF

    It’s about time. I see the union thugs are all upset because the evil Republicans want to do things the right way……let the people decide. If your stinking unions are so great you won’t have a thing to worry about, but the democratic process has always scared organizations like this.

  • PAUL

    not all union workers are thugs we are you friends,relatives and niegbors all that this amendment would do is give the buisness world the right to hire and fire with NO reason they will be able to cut wages on a whim and that is SIMPLY WRONG !

    • Sue

      Business should have those rights. You are not entitled to a job.

      If they abuse their rights, they will have a hard time hiring people and the business will suffer and perhaps cease to exist. It is not good business to mistreat workers. It is good business to fire bad workers.

      • The Shat

        Ha! Somebody who is apparently for “right-to-work” (implied) states that “you are not entitled to a job.” Can’t make it up…

    • sue

      @Pauline Minnesota has laws on how to fire, just because we are a at will working State a company cant just fire someone for no reason. And please dont tell they can because they are afraid of being sued. the Courts of Minnesota favor the workers by 80% in most employment cases.

      • paul

        sue why can’t you just call some one by ther moniker maybe you just an REPUBLICAN and yes people can be fired for NO reason I know for a FACT ! START SHOWING SOME RESPECT !

  • Foxier

    False Paul, false. The primary difference between union and non-union work places, in tough times, are that in union shops the least senior workforce is let go and in non-union shops the lowest performing workers are let go. The union shops then struggle because they usually loose some of their best workers. Thus holding the company and workers at a disadvantage.

    • Good Call!

      Nail on the head sir!

  • RIII

    I have been forced to join unions on 2 different occasions in order to get the job attached. Both times the unions did nothing for me except take my money. When I worked faster than others I was told to slow down by the union workers with more time on the job then me. People were promoted because they were there longer instead of doing a better job. . If union workers were truly valuable and had marketable skills they would not be afraid of this. Unions have only created a workforce that is hostile towards their employer.

  • angus

    Why don’t the Republicans rewrite the whole Constition? ” If you aren’t a rich, white, Alleged Christian, preferably non Catholic, you do not have any rights!”

    Should solve the problem.

    • Jason

      You have no valid points. Your statement shows this.

    • CF

      I can see you’re not of high intellect. Now, show us where in the constitution it says an organization can force you to give them money, for dubious services rendered, as a prerequisite for gaining employment at at business it doesn’t own. I think your constitutional scholars would find just the opposite..

  • susan

    why all the amendments. can’t do your job??? we voted you in to legislate, get it legislate, not put multiple amendments on the ballots. What is good for the state, not what is good for big business. Employees are not that stupid to keep non functioning unions un place. Unions may or may not be needed, but this amendment is just another GOP way of making everything easier for big business.

    • Swamp Fox

      Glad to see I am not the only one on this blog who sees the real issue at hand.

  • Jim

    During my career I by chance had the opportunity to manage two separate but same trucking operations in the Omaha area. One part of the business was union and the other was not. All of the drivers hauled the same products for the same customers. All came into workat the same time to different terminals in Omaha and did the exact same jobs, but one group of drivers was unionized and the other was not.

    When the union contract came due the union drivers wanted a 3% increase in their pay. As I was new to managing such a split operation, I discovered that the history at this business was that whatever the union negotiated, the non-union drivers got the same deal.

    I offered the union more money than they were asking for, but tied it to safety and a reduction in their preventable accidents, which had been a large and ongoing problem each year. The union negotiator turned me down flat. I explained that non-preventable accidents would not count against the drivers bonus, only preventable accidents and if they had no preventable accidents, my offer would pay them about 5% more each year than they were currently making, 2% more than they were asking for, and that I would mail those bonus checks to their homes every quarter. The union wanted no part of any kind of performance tied to an increase in their pay.

    For four days we went back and forth. I stuck with my offer, they finally lowered their offer to a 2% increase, and I said no. I was told by the union negotiator that the union drivers were ready to strike. I told him to tell them to go ahead and strike. He asked for a recess to talk with his union members and an hour later, he came back into the meeting and accepted my offer.

    My preventable accident rate dropped to zero for the first three months and each driver, union and non-union got a 5% bonus check mailed to their homes.

    Then a union driver approached me one day and accused me of paying the non-union drivers more than the union drivers. I honestly assured him that indeed the non-union drivers were taking home a little more than the union drivers, because they did not have to pay the union dues that the union drivers were paying.

    In the second quarter, there were two preventable accidents and again bonus checks were sent out to the drivers homes. As the drivers wives were the first to get the mail, they knew what the bonus check amount should be, because they had all seen the one come in for the previous quarter. The wives of all of the drivers became the best safety department any manager could hope for, as they were expecting a big check and when they didn’t get it, they let their husbands know about it.

    The annual cost of preventable accidents for this trucking operation had been running an average of $315,000 a year to the company. At the end of the first year, the cost for preventable accidents had dropped to $63,000 and the average drivers pay had increased by 4.25% or $140,000 for all drivers in total, saving the company over $100,000 in revenues and reduced loss time injuries, workmen’s comp claims and hospital visits and stays.

    My point is that union’s can become a worker’s own worst enemy.

    This is a true story.

    • Jason

      I like your story!

    • Deathrock

      You just explained why “Right to Work” is a joke. It’s a bunch of non-union workers reaping the benefits given by union workers. If the union didn’t push for the raises or increase then you could tell all the driver’s no. The market should force you to give them a raise, but doesn’t always do it. The Market is really goes by trends. The union sets the trends for the workers. Ultimately, the unions are the workers, but need an administrative leader. That leader has to do what they feel best. If the employer stands tall then it’s up the worker’s to make the decision. If Northwest Airlines has taught us anything, it’s that management can really dictate the talks and it’s up to the management whether or not a business makes money. Management at Northwest Airlines ran the company poorly and then gave themselves a giant pat on the back when the Union did what was best for the business. They turned around and flushed it down the toilet. A “Right to Work” bill should be called “The Moocher’s” bill, because it allows people to be entitled to union privileges with having the expense of being in a union. Of course Zellers would never put it in those terms, because we all know how the last thing a republican would say, “we feel everyone should be entitled to the same work place experience, even if they don’t pay their fair share.”

  • stev

    @Jim Well said the same thing or similar when I worked for the County, I was a Union Steward Local 320 and I walked out of the negotiations because of the way the Unions were playing games. They are not to be trusted.

  • Gilly

    The nationwide assault on organized labor is so that conservatives can eliminate the last possible vestige of any campaign contributions independent of the corporations under the infamous Citizens United decision of the hyper-conservative Roberts Court. Corporations want to seal their control of American government and become sole proprietors of every future election if they have to make union membership illegal and bankrupt every worker in America in order to accomplish it, don’t think they won’t.

    • CF

      The a nationwide assault on Americans freedoms is so liberals can buy votes with promises of preferential union favoring laws. Let the people decide if they wan’t to be part of your organization. Afraid your campaign of intimidation & violence won’t be effective if an individual has a choice? Afraid people will disavow your corrupt organization? Let the workers have their constitutional freedoms.

  • Swamp Fox

    Good comments. I agree with you 99.44% of what you said. The union did its job and you did yours. However, the union needs to be more progressive, communicative, and educational in the 21st Century business arena to further succeed and help the company flourish. The days of confrontational company or labor relationships should be minimal. Both sides have to see the lights of enlightening progress and a beneficial happy workplace environment.

    A win/win situation for all concerned. Even the non-union workers should see why their wages are the standards they are. Unions do have a place in the workforce and workplace.

    • sue

      @Swamppy The Unions are going the way of the Soviet Union, and they HAD their place, about 85 years ago.

  • DougT

    Unions are about POWER – Power over people.

    They get power by requiring workers to report to them and pay dues. They are not about creating more members…not about making better products at affordable prices. They are anti consumer and given the need for rapid change in the workplace to compete with foreign companies – Unions are a part of the problem – not the solution

    Let people decide IF they want to be in a Union – not the other way around. And No Way should government workers be allowed to have a Union – that’s like double dipping into the anti- productivity vat…..


    • Tom

      Man you really are out there pal…HOLY!!! You sound like FOX…you no longer have a mind…they own you…and you complain about Union’s?????

      • DougT

        ya – I graduated from high school and then got a degree in econ and finance…I have no clue what I am talking about. :)

        But I do know that its the privileged and responsibility of the individual to go out into the work place and do the best he can – It called FREEDOM.! If a company gives you the shaft – then pick up and go somewhere else. I have (sometimes unwillingly) and my life has only gotten better.

        And I for one never ever drank the Obama Kool-Aid and never will

  • DougT

    Gad – this program needs an edit button… that should read Unions are about creating more members –

    But a little fired up here – the concept of a “union” is so stupid in the modern world – if here ever was a time and place for them it was looooong ago….

    They are a residual of the “workers soviets” …and look where that got The People….


  • anti bachmann

    unions are worthless if you do your job and are a good worker you have nothing to worry about. unless you really want to be a lazy union worker

    • Kevin

      Your views are that of Mrs. Bachmann…..your a closet Bachmann lover….

      • anti bachmann

        so you must be in the lazy group that would lose your job without the union

  • DougT

    And just keep demanding more money without offering more productivity Unions – because that will drive more automation and equipment purchases to replace your low value – high cost activities..

    Same thing for the minimum (arbitrarily set) wages – it reduces the demand for labor and increases the demand for automation and machines,,,,,,

    That is not being mean – that’s just basic economics…perhaps something more should learn before they leave high school….



  • MrB

    First thing the GOP proposed that I actually agree with. I’ve been a part of 3 unions in my life and none are worth it. Whenever it comes to them sticking up for the worker they are no where to be found!!

  • Todd

    Union’s made this Nation strong…now because FOX tells them so..the Stepford bot’s think (I use the term think lightly) Union’s are something the anti christ came up with…How long will you Fplk’s let FOX and minion tell you what to do and how to think? The NAZI’S did that 60 yrs ago…wake up !!!

    • CF

      Sounds like another liberal automaton with an obsession with Fox> If he wasn’t slobbering so bad he would have brought up Hannity, O’reilly, & Beck.

  • enonorman

    There is no change in a persons right to join or start a union, the only concern is the union being forced on an individual. Dues or fair share are deducted from your pay, and I was a negotiator for the local. The fair share should be zero as we were not paid for the services rendered but fair share was 80% of the union dues and most if not all was used to buy influence and pay the thugs. Along with this it was expected that you pay for a left wing liberal lobby group supported by the local state and national, and a minimum sum was expected. This by the way is the local education union, which at that time was called a professional organization.

  • The Shat

    Referring to the trucking story above:

    The whole reason a “closed-shop, non right-to-work” state makes sense is the illustrated in that story. The non-Union workers ended up making the same as the Union workers. Why should a group of folks who did not pay in or fight for better conditions under a collective bargaining agreement be entitled to the same benefits? They get to ride in on the coattails of the work of the Union negotiators, creating an inherently unfair system. By passing “right-to-work” legislation, you essentially break any and all labor unions, as people will wise up to the “free benefits for no risk” way — which really is the American way nowadays.

    While I wholeheartedly agree that some labor organizations are detrimental to the economy, I’d like to say that this only occurs when a union becomes too big for it’s own good. The UAW almost singlehandedly ruined Detroit. And for a local flavor; take a look at the Minnesota Nurses Association. Many hospitals are routinely full, but not because they ran out of beds or rooms. The problem is that they couldn’t afford the nurses to staff them. This is a systemic problem throughout the city. And is a key attribute to a very high unemployment rate for registered nurses in the cities. Many new graduate RNs are leaving the area to procure work because there is simply no job hiring in this area right now.

    The labor union I participate in recently helped ensure my quality of life, and there wouldn’t have been much I could have done without them. My particular company was paying 20+% less than my peers in the metro area, and they swore we were being compensated fairly. The union presented the numbers and dug their heels in the sand, and eventually negotiated a raise to bring us up to industry standards. Now, I’ll refute what most folks are already thinking — that if they paid that poorly, why didn’t you go to a company that paid well. Well, in my particular profession, there’s approx. 100 applicants for every one job opening, so quitting your job in search of a 20% raise could be financial suicide.

    And job security is something else you can’t put a price on, either. There have been multiple people in my place of employment in the past couple of years that have been wrongfully terminated, and the union fought for their jobs. Anybody who has been there for more than ten years has indirectly had their jobs saved by the Union, as well. The company constantly tells us how difficult the economy is, and how they’re looking to make budget cuts. The more senior members would almost assuredly be “let go” when they could be replaced by new members making 50% less. The first day you showed up five minutes late would be the first day you were standing in the unemployment line.

  • G Dog

    Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

    If you want to be Mississippi, move to Mississippi.

  • Rentacop

    RIGHT TO WORK equals lower wages, minimum or no benefits, no pension plan, and the right for the company to get rid of you without a reason or notice.

    • DougT

      yup – just like the rest of us working stiffs – guess the union members better start getting up a little earlier and work a little harder.

  • ale

    If people want to get rid of the private sector union because they feel workers are overpaid / what about prevailing wage for private sector working state projects ? Go tell a group of construction workers that.

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