Strengthen Arizona’s Right to Work Status

This op-ed column was originally published at

By Paul Gosar

Arizona has a strong history as a right to work state. Yet over the past half-century the statutes that once protected our labor force have devolved to protect just the small number of union leaders that perpetuate a broken system. In order to adequately protect hard-working Arizonans, it is necessary for Congress to strengthen Right to Work laws at the federal level.

I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3222, the Employee Rights Act, currently before Congress, which would let employees have a deciding vote on whether their current union actually meets their needs. The Employee Rights Act would also guarantee a secret ballot vote when employees are deciding whether or not to unionize. This would bring the end to “card checks” — public petitions that organizers have paired with fraud and intimidation to win union certification against employees’ wishes.

America’s labor laws have seen little change since the 1940s and, just like many tax and trade laws, the same old labor regulations no longer meet the needs of today’s dynamic economy and changing workforce. Many current labor laws, both in Arizona and nationally, bar the kind of workplace protections that give the individuals rights equal to those of the labor unions. Well that dog just don’t hunt.

For example, once a union is certified — the law permits that union to stay in that workplace indeterminately. New employees don’t even get a say in the system that rules their workplace, and more importantly their paychecks. This system not only denies workers the right to choose who represents them, it also undermines the credibility of many workplace unions amongst their own workers.

Compulsory dues or fees in any form –“union,” “closed,” or “agency” shop — is a paradox of the Right to Work principle and the ultimate independence of each worker. Furthermore, it is discriminating to require employers to collect dues on behalf of the union and fire employees if they refuse to pay those dues.

Glassdoor Economic Research is an independent organization that conducts research and shares insights on trends in the labor market. Their 2015 study identified the cities that have recovered the quickest since the recession. Of the top 50 cities in this study, 72 percent were in Right to Work states. In fact, 70 percent of the cities that saw a percentage increase in hourly wages were in Right to Work states.

So commonsense are the eight provisions included in the Employee Rights Act that they have received overwhelming, bipartisan support from unionized workers themselves. No wonder liberals are worried.

It is long past time that Congress prioritized the interests of individual American workers over the interests of the Union bosses and labor unions in Washington, D.C. As an original cosponsor of the Employee Rights Act, I am proud to add my voice to the chorus demanding that unions play fair and respect the rights of every worker — not just those who buy into their ideological agenda.

Congressman Paul Gosar represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional district and serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.