Chesterton Tribune

USW Local 6787 asks Chamber to oppose right to work legislation

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United Steelworkers Local 6787 is asking the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce to come out against “right-to-work” legislation in the State of Indiana.

“The USW membership in your community is a solid group of over 20,000 hard-working men and women, their spouses, dependent children, and retirees,” Local 6787 President Paul Gipson states in a letter to the Chamber dated Aug. 26. “Without the benefits of our union, the purchases we make at your establishments may not be possible.”

Gipson also encloses in his letter a column by Ruth Needleman, professor emeritus at Indiana University Northwest and director of Leadership and Social Change at Calumet College of St. Joseph, in which Needleman argues that “right-to-work” legislation—by making it “illegal to require workers to pay union dues in a unionized workplace”—“allows one individual’s right to cancel out the rights of the larger community.”

“Unions charge dues in order to make a workplace an attractive and safer place to work,” Needleman writes. “Would we pass a law to protect freeloaders in a condo? I do not think so. So why would we pass a law to undermine the quality of work life in the name of an individual who wants the benefits without the costs? Our laws establish guidelines for the public good, not for the individual preference.”

“Your customers need to know that you value them,” Gipson concludes his letter. “If your business is doing well, it is because union members are supporting you.”

Chamber Executive Director Heather Ennis told the Chesterton Tribune that, currently, the Chamber has no official position on “right-to-work” legislation. “It has not been a topic of conversation for our board,” she said.



Posted 8/30/2011