Former IBEW Steward - Right to Work Will Protect New Hampshire Workers - Granite Grok

Former IBEW Steward – Right to Work Will Protect New Hampshire Workers

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It’s all too common for people in politics to claim to speak for everyone, even when they just don’t. Take union bosses in the current fight over Right to Work: They act like all union members oppose Right to Work, but in reality that’s just not true.

In fact, public polling indicates that union members support Right to Work at about the same rate as the general population, nearly 80% in some polls.

And as a former shop steward in IBEW Local 126 near Philadelphia, I can tell you:  Right to Work is both right and fair.

Related: Sign the Petition – Pass Right to Work in New Hampshire

As a young man in the ‘70s, I worked for a sub-contractor for Philadelphia Electric Company on a high-tension tree clearing crew and became that crew’s shop steward for IBEW Local 126 — our crew paid the same union dues as the electric company employees.

But when the union training sessions for electrical work for the electric company were offered, we were not allowed to participate — our membership meant nothing.

And the arrangement the IBEW had was that sub-contractors could never get any raise or benefit that was more than that bargained for electric company employees — subs were locked in, and bargaining was a forgone conclusion.

In other words:  Dues paid, no representation.

No matter how much better we did, we could never earn more than the guys at the electric company.

That alone would be reason enough to justify a Right to Work law:  The IBEW wasn’t effectively representing the guys at my sub-contractor, so why should we have to pay?

But that wasn’t even the worst experience I had.

We finished clearing about 30 miles of 200KV power lines, and our company told us to wait for another contract starting shortly clearing for a pipeline.

I went to the lot where the new crew and trucks were kept to sign up with my old foreman.

He wasn’t there, but a car with several men in it was who waved me over and told me I wouldn’t work on that crew until I paid the union brass a $100 bribe.

My old foreman told me that I would not want to work on this project with these people, and it was best for me to just walk away.

IBEW Local 126 didn’t really represent us clearing power lines, but at least I didn’t have to pay a bribe as with this new union.

I’ve had other experiences since moving to New Hampshire, both union and non-union, and I’ve found that all too often, union bosses foment a hate-the-boss mentality and hurt motivated, productive workers.

The fact is, with a Right to Work law, workers are able to hold their union officials accountable for radicalism, ineffectiveness or corruption.

I know sometimes workers want unions as a check on bad managers, but that doesn’t justify protecting bad union bosses by guaranteeing them forced payments from workers.

Like any other private entity, if union officials provide a good product, people will pay for it.

Good unions don’t need the ability to force workers to pay, and bad unions don’t deserve it.

There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about Right to Work, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing in the bill stopping workers who want one from having a union.

It just protects the rights of workers who don’t want a union.

And I can say from experience that’s an important protection.

I’d urge all legislators to vote for Right to Work.