INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, February 27 — Along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) strongly opposes so-called “right-to-work” legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress on January 31, and the National Division is urging all union members and their families to contact Congress to express their opposition to this destructive anti-union/anti-worker bill.

Intended to hurt workers and their unions, H.R. 785 is sponsored by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Steve King (R-Iowa). It would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to forbid union security provisions in all contracts in all industries everywhere in the country. Right-to-work laws forbid requiring all members in the craft to share the costs of negotiating and administering agreements that apply to everyone in the craft; without the financial support of everyone in the craft, the union is faced with having to cutback the services it provides which obviously hurts you all.

And that is exactly what the sponsors of this legislation want. If they are able to undermine the union’s finances and thus the union’s ability to represent workers in ensuring fair treatment in the workplace, this will sow dissatisfaction and, they hope, render the union powerless. We will no longer be able to negotiate contracts to protect and improve your wages and conditions of employment, while at the same time spreading the cost of that representation among all of the workers who reap the benefits.

Members can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to speak with the House of Representative member from your Congressional District. Contact information can also be found online here. Also, members can send a customized email to their members of Congress asking them to oppose the national right-to-work bill. A link is available at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters website here.

“The fact of the matter is that the so-called ‘right-to-work’ law would severely undermine the rights, compensation and benefits that workers have on the job by destroying their union representation,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “These laws are clearly intended to eliminate labor unions by forcing them to provide representation to employees who don’t pay their fair share of the Union’s costs.

“We as railroaders have demanding jobs and there are many things that we need to improve on. That job is that much more difficult when large blocks of represented employees are allowed and encouraged to abandon their union. In reality, many are not aware that abandoning their union ultimately leads to them losing their contractual benefits that they may assume will always be there. Things like seniority, the right to a hearing and due process before discipline, better pay and benefits, safety protection and retirement benefits are all at risk if the anti-union forces succeed in eliminating our Union. These aren’t ‘rights’ given to us freely, they are the benefits of a union contract that has matured by hard-fought bargaining by the BLET over more than 150 years of struggle. Make no mistake, if the anti-union forces are successful and our union goes away, your contractual rights and benefits will go away too.”

Contrast what you currently enjoy with the plight of workers in states that now have right-to-work laws. They earn about $1,500 less per year than workers in free bargaining states. Workers in “right-to-work states” also are less likely to have employer-paid health care and pensions, and more likely to die in accidents on the job. Nine of the 10 states with the highest poverty rates are “right-to-work” states. This is not the direction we want to go.

Again, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask your member of Congress to oppose H.R. 785, the national “right-to-work” bill.

Monday, February 27, 2017