Freedom and Prosperity, the Right to Work Story
Report by Betty Sakai
Mark Mix is President of the Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a position he has held since 2003. He also serves as President of the Right to Work Committee, a 2.6 million member public policy organization. The Foundation provides unparalleled, cutting-edge free legal strategies to protect workers caught up in the dragnet of forced unionism. He is passionate about the right of every American to work – the right not to be compelled to join a union by compulsory unionism. Only twenty-four (24) states today are Right to Work states. A list of Right to Work states he noted can be found on line.
Mr. Mix frequently appears on national television shows including Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Fox and Friends, CNBC, and CNN. He has been a guest on syndicated radio shows such as the Lars Larson Show, the Jason Lewis Show, the Michael Reagan Show, and the Jim Bohannon Show. His writings have appeared in national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Examiner, and National Review, and they have been featured in widely read regional publications including the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, and the Orange County Register. Mr. Mix has a B.A. in Finance from James Madison University and an Associate Degree in Marketing from the State University of New York. Having worked in several state-level Right to Work groups, he joined the National Right to Work Committee in 1990 and joined the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund in 1999.
Explaining to the Forum audience what compulsory unionism means, he cited the case of Pamela Harris in Illinois, who as a personal care provider was forced to pay dues to SEIU in order to take care of her own twenty-five (25) year old seriously developmentally disabled child in her own home. The business of SEIU, Mr. Mix noted, takes in $20 billion each year -- $11 billion from dues alone. As happened in Illinois, SEIU donated money to the governor’s campaign. The governor in return signed an executive order forcing thousands of workers to pay dues to SEIU. The Right to Work Foundation assisted Pamela Harris by taking her case to the highest court in the land. On June 30, 2014, Supreme Court Justices held that she should not have to pay SEIU to have the right to care for her own child in her own home.
Since 1935, unions have been more involved in politics -- in what is happening politically in the state and federal government -- than in what is happening on the shop floor. In 1935 Franklin Roosevelt with the New Deal faced a Supreme Court’s opposition to federal labor laws. The Court had previous determined federal labor policies to be un-Constitutional. Congress passed the Wagner Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and Roosevelt was worried about the Constitutionality of this law. So Roosevelt went to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and offered to provide each Justice an Associate Justice to make things run smoother. The Chief Justice, encouraged by a desire to improve the decorum of the Court, encouraged the other Justices to go along with a Federal Compulsory Labor Law. Since 1937, labor unions have enjoyed a power unique to them alone, the power to take away a worker’s right to work.
Asserting “The fact that a union can take away your rights is just not right,” Mark Mix compared the right to work to a common law contract. He inquired of the Forum audience as to what some of the basic elements of a contract are. An attorney in the audience answered: (1) There must be a meeting of the minds, (2) There must be an absence of duress, (3) Both sides must accept the terms and conditions, (4) It must be legal, and (5) There must consideration. In essence, there has been an absence of a contract with workers under the Federal American Union Labor Policy since 1937.
Mr. Mix noted that unions spent $1.7 billion dollars in politics alone in 2011 and 2012, a vicious cycle of forced dues and political donations that can only be broken by restoring the right of American workers to choose if they want to be represented by a union. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker, facing a $3.6 billion dollar deficit, gave government employees the right to choose whether they want to be represented by a union. Noting that nothing should prevent a worker from joining a union, Mr. Mix said government employees in Wisconsin decided against union representation. This progressive state and its employees have been thriving ever since. The President of the AFL-CIO emphasized volunteerism as the core principal of the American labor movement. He said that when a worker joins a group voluntarily, he or she is more interested in participating, in supporting that organization.
Union leadership insists they know what is best for workers. They demand an exclusive monopoly to control workers. Mark Mix questioned, “If they are doing everything right, why do they need to force compulsion?” The conflict remains between what organized labor was, is, and could be.
Mark discussed the case of Boeing and the Machinists Union in the State of Washington. Boeing approached the Machinists Union in advance of building a new facility considering that the union had cost Boeing $1 billion dollars over twenty (20) years in strikes. The union refused, so Boeing moved the majority of their operations to a Right to Work State, to South Carolina. The Machinists Union appealed to Obama’s National Labor Relations Board and the Board backed the Machinists Union. But litigation ended suddenly as Boeing settled with the union by giving the union a four (4) year extension on their contract scheduled to expire in ten (10) months.
Then in 2005, a huge paradigm shift occurred. A case arguing that workers need to opt-in instead of opt-out lost at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but won at the Supreme Court. This did not signal the end of unions but signaled the end of compulsory unions. Mark Mix added that over his many years working with the Right to Work Legal Foundation, those who most inspire him stand for liberty, for individual freedom, and have the courage to make their voices heard. He referred listeners to the Foundation’s websites: www.NRTW.org and www.NRTWC.org for additional information.
The Forum audience provided Mark Mix with a standing ovation, after which during the Question and Answer (Q & A) session, those attending were privileged to ask questions. One question asked Mr. Mix if he believes public unions should have the right to strike. First, he said, there should be – and always will be – the right of workers to form a union. There are many wonderful people who are truly devoted to their jobs who work for government. Although workers should have the right to join a union, government should not be forced to recognize any union. The problem is that government alone is given the right by the people to exercise force. The monopolistic force of a union on even plane alongside of government, threatening to withhold services to the people, is a power above that provided to the individual tax-payer to redress grievances. Public unions should have the right to organize and redress their grievances but should not have the right to strike.
In the private sector, a company faced with union demands the company cannot meet will be forced to close their business. Government cannot close for long without affect, although certain municipalities and states – including California – are getting very close to being forced by public unions to reduce or eliminate services.
Asked about his position on the minimum wage, Mr. Mix stated that minimum wage is not linked to the right to work, although unions would like to link the two. If a higher minimum wage would solve the problems in the American workplace, Mark Mix said, “Why not set the minimum wage at $25 or $50 per hour?” He added, things would go south very quickly.
Mark then addressed a question about union card check elections versus elections held by secret ballot. He cited the case of a Volkswagen plant. The Right to Work Legal Foundation represented the workers. The UAW wanted a card-check election. The 1,600 Volkswagen workers wanted a secret ballot election. Without the intimidation of public scrutiny, workers voted 66 to 44 to not be represented by UAW.
Mr. Mix was asked what the difference is between candidates donated to by union leaders without the consent of their members, and CEOs donating to candidates without the consent of their shareholders. Unions, he answered, donate a larger percentage to those politicians who are in power compared to corporations who hedge their bet by donating to both those in power and those not in power. Union members are forced to pay with their dues as compared to stockholders who can sell their stock or vote for other company officers and board members.
A question was asked about public bankruptcies. He said government bankruptcies are complicated by the inability of government to set aside or reduce the pension liability. The courts have not yet addressed this issue. States like California are facing severe challenges. Other questions were asked concerning current cases in California and about retaliation experienced by workers from co-workers on the job. Mr. Mix noted that federal law enforcement often does not address union violence because Federal laws prohibit union leaders from being prosecuted for acts of violence occurring during legitimate union objectives.
Mr. Mix offered a book for those seeking further information: Shadowbosses -- Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind, by Mallory Factor with Elizabeth Factor, Center Street Publishing.
The Forum thanked Mark Mix with enthusiastic applause. He shared a wealth of information pertinent to everyone.
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