A Republican-led legislature in Missouri is expected to pass a bill soon that will bring changes to unions. The bill to outlaw mandatory union dues is being debated among business leaders and workers.
Bradley Fields supports Missouri's Right to Work bill.
"Anytime you force somebody to do something without that option, it kind of goes against what I feel is their constitutional right," says Fields.
Fields works at a Joplin company represented by a local union, though Fields himself works in a non-unionized department. But he keeps tabs on his union buddies, who have to pay union dues.
"A lot of the union dues to go organizations, or fund political campaigns," says Fields.
His friends may not always agree with those organizations or political campaigns.
Here's what the Right to Work bill is all about...
"It would give them the opportunity to opt-out," says Fields.
...Paying the dues would no longer be required. Right now, some of Fields' coworkers can individually choose to not be a part of the union. But they still have to pay union dues to Teamsters Local Union 823, led by Russ Harper. This union represents employees of 19 companies in the Joplin area.
"Instead of Right to Work, we consider it Right to Work for Less," says Harper.
Harper says he respects the right to individually opt-out of being unionized with the rest of coworkers. But he says people who opt-out still get protected by the union.
"It's no different, the way we look at it, as a taxpayer, if you don't pay your property taxes and you still get your streets fixed," says Harper.
Take away a lot of dues and funding to unions...
"Hopefully, eventually, they think the unions will fade away. We're a nonprofit business. We break-even," says Harper.
Harper says a big part of making it big in the American Dream would fade away, too.
"There was a study done in 2014 by the University of Missouri in Kansas City, and if it (Right to Work bill) passed, their study showed there would be a $1,900 to $2,500 loss of income per household in Missouri," says Harper.
Fields says unions can still survive, if they spend revenues differently.
"I do feel like unions can be good, in some instances, but I think overall, it'll be good for both sides," says Fields.
Harper plans a major campaign towards current union members, hoping they continue realizing the importance of teamsters.
The Missouri House and Senate have passed similar Right to Work bills, and each has sent the legislation to the other chamber. The House is expected to hold a hearing on a Right to Work bill this Monday.
Not only increasing, but at the very least, protecting income rates:
Click here to view a graph, provided by Jasen Jones of the Workforce Innovation Board of Southwest Missouri, that illustrates how the average national income of people with a high school diploma has steadily decreased since 1970. There have been different economic factors contributing to this decline, like a recent recession. Jones, however, believes in general, this illustrates the eroding of the middle class and the growing gap between upper and middle classes.
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