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The right to exploit

March 27, 2012
Marshall Independent

To the editor:

The move to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November should be called the right to exploit. Organized labor over the last 100 years has fought and won for the middle class a 40-hour week, overtime, workers compensation, job security, child labor, laws and a multitude of other benefits. For teachers, it was tenure and the right to be included in decisions on what is best for the students and schools. The intent of this new amendment is to overturn the rights of all working men and women to successfully organize. Such an attack on organized labor would not survive the normal legislative process. Can the Republican majority convince a majority of Minnesota residents that somehow unions are the root of all problems in the economy?

The decline in unions has been matched by stagnant wages and benefits for everyone in the middle class. Republicans in the state Senate and House would have you believe that a fairly compensated employee is not in the best interest of job creation in Minnesota. They say management should be the judge of what is best for employees. If we could just remove the pesky union influence all kinds of good things will follow. However, the results would be lower wages, benefits, and safety for workers as experienced by labor in those states that now have right to work laws on their books. The benevolent employer is fiction matched by the ongoing attack on unions as the problem with our current economic situation. Unions have proven through the years, that the only protection an employee has is organized labor. We should all be concerned that the lessons of history are not forgotten. Hard won benefits can be taken away. Labor and management only work together when both are equal partners at the bargaining table. Removing that balance would enable one side to exploit the other.

Vern Silvernale




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