Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

Mr. Howard [Right-To-Work Laws Are the Key to Virginia’s and Loudoun’s Prosperity] fails to mention that Oxfam rates Virginia as the worst place to work in America because “there is no guarantee around accommodations for pregnancy, no mandated paid sick leave, and no legislative support for best practices in work schedules,”[1]. How can we be proud that Virginia is the best for business when it is the worst for workers?

It would have been nice if Mr. Howard provided sources for his claims that right to work “laws strengthen unions”. According to Del. Krizek “When Virginia enacted its “right-to-work” law in 1947 it was to block the rise of unions that organize workers of all races. What the law does is prohibits security agreements between companies and labor unions. Specifically, employees cannot be compelled to join a union or to pay union dues, but still are able to receive the benefits and protections of unions if they work in a unionized environment.

Practically, the effect is to starve unions from access to funding — the dues. It’s analogous to many workplace organizations that require dues, like bar membership for lawyers. If you don’t pay your annual dues, you will not be allowed to practice law.

Moreover, it is important to note that workers in “right-to-work” states earn far less than workers in states without “right-to-work” policies, are less likely to be provided with health insurance through their jobs, and are also more likely to be exposed to unsafe working conditions.”[2]

I find it interesting that Mr. Howard refers to a CNBC study which Del. Krizek states favors right to work laws.

I disagree with Mr. Howard’s claim that repealing right to work would have a negative impact on rural Virginia. The reality is the “poverty rate in rural Virginia is 16.8%, compared with 9.8% in urban areas of the state…The unemployment rate in rural Virginia is 3.7%, while in urban Virginia, it is 2.9%.”[3]I think repealing right to work would breath new life into the unions that already exist across our Commonwealth.

Unfortunately, income inequality is on the rise in Virginia. Our “Gini index jumped from 0.4674 in 2017 to 0.4754 in 2018…In 2017, 23 states had a greater income inequality than Virginia. Last year (2018), only 19 states did…Richmond had the 28th-highest Gini index (0.5524) in the nation. The cities of Norfolk (0.5179) and Roanoke (0.5099) were close behind”[4]

It isn’t enough for Virginia to be the best for business when workers, who are the core of our economy, are struggling. Our minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. There is a lack of affordable housing in Northern Virginia. I left the workforce in 2011 because of the high cost of childcare which has not improved.

We must also acknowledge the racist origins of right to work laws. Vance Muse was one of the biggest proponents of right to work laws. While campaign for right to work in Arkansas in 1944 he warned if the law did not pass “white women and white men will be forced into organizations [labor unions] with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”[5]

This week started with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr Day. In 1961, Martin Luther King Jr said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”[6]His words still hold truth almost 60 years later.

Please email your Delegate in support of HB 153 which would repeal Right to Work in Virginia https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB153and sign this petition in support of HB 153https://www.change.org/p/dellcarter-house-virginia-gov-virginia-support-hb-153-support-workers?fbclid=IwAR1cqYo1FoZnuHCg5ezBclSsr4p6z1ocItaEg2T2XtkC05-je3ZFcLmnWPA&use_react=false







2 thoughts on “Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

  • 2020-01-24 at 3:10 pm

    Stripping away the right of choice from the people, and forcibly taking wages from workers for the use of corrupt bosses, all backed up by the heavy hand of government?

    Democrats just love authoritarianism.

  • 2020-02-10 at 10:24 am

    It is also a fact that the demands of the union workers for more pay and benefits for life have just about bankrupted the industries such as the car companies. State governments such as CA, NJ, and NY are being bankrupted by out of control labor union agreements that pay the retired workers their full salaries after they retire. luckily VA retirement system does not do that. They also do not include overtime pay in computing last three years service. Labor unions at one time were good because of worker conditions. Too many union officials abuse their positions and too much greed and graft. Unions only contribute to the liberal democrat party so they can get more money back. Being forced to contribute money to a union who supports a party whose ideas you do agree with is not right.

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