Right To Work Explained To Clyde. Or My Own Real Life Experience With Union Terrorism.ColumnsFeaturedPolitics

“Hello Bunkie! Want breakfast?”

He replied, “What else would I be here for at this time of the day Clyde?”

“Your usual boneless chicken breakfast? I’ll get right on it if you’ll pour us some coffee.

I suddenly turned around and yelled, “NOOO, stop! Don’t do that! I forgot. Chris will be here in a minute, and Rita too. Until then we’ll have to just talk and share the paper.”

Bunkie looked quizzical, set down the coffee pot, and said nothing except this. “OK Clyde. Whatever you say.”

I sat back down at the bar and asked Bunkie how his days have been since he was here last. We just made that sort of small talk for a minute or two until Chris and Rita strolled in right at 8:00.

“Rita, two cups of coffee, please. And Chris, Bunkie wants breakfast, you know what that is.

“Bunkie, business has really improved since I hired you to write copy for my radio and newspaper ads. I just want you know I appreciate your work. I know you didn’t want to join the new union here at Clyde’s, but I really wish you would. As a true friend it will make what’s coming a whole bunch easier on me. Until then, that’s Chris and Rita’s work, we can’t do that anymore.”

“What’s that Clyde? I mean what’s coming?”

I put on my most pained face and said, “Just wait for Chris and Rita, enjoy the Roanoke Times editorials if you can, and I’ll explain it then.”

Just then Rita appeared with a hot pot of coffee and refilled Bunkie’s and my cups. Rita returned shortly with Bunkie’s breakfast. Except it was not Bunkie’s boneless chicken breakfast as he was expecting it.

Along with the usual two over easy and two, not one, not three, strips of bacon, and grits, it contained an extra strip of bacon and some hash browns. Not a single slice of dry whole wheat toast, but two slices, buttered.

Bunkie looked up at me and said, “What’s up Clyde? This is not what I ordered.”

“Look Bunkie, it’s in the contract. All employees get this for any breakfast meal, at no cost. Well, no cost for the union members. You’ll have to pay for the extra bacon and the hash browns since you are not payin’ dues and are not attendin’ meetin’s.”


That was how Clyde related his nightmare to me. I suppose all the recent talk of right to work was workin’ on him.

“How about we suspend union rules for a few minutes, Clyde. Give Chris and Rita a short break while I explain a few things. To all three of you. Y’all can explain it to the bartenders, other waitresses, and cooks later. I understand one or two of them did not join ASSEs , (Association of Service-oriented Service-company Employees), either.

“First, I don’t mind paying for the hash browns and the extra strip of bacon and the extra piece of toast. I like hash browns and bacon and buttered toast. Virginia IS a right to work state. In non right-to-work states that means several things MUST happen in a union shop. Many of the things you’ve been told DO NOT have to occur in a Virginia union shop. Most news outlets have gravely misrepresented the right-to-work stuff.

I fumbled in my jacket pocket and found some stuff I had printed out. “An example I recently found stated,” and I read it to the three of them;

The National Labor Relations Act permits, but does not mandate, unions to negotiate as the “exclusive representatives” of all employees at a unionized company. This means that all workers must accept the union’s representation. They may not negotiate separately with their employer. Whether they like it or not, the union represents them.

“What that means is that in other states I would pay those dues whether I want to or not. If I object to ASSEs’s political positions or not does not matter. I can’t negotiate with you Clyde, in any manner. Nor can you with me. What the ASSEs jam through in negotiation via threats of strikes is what we all would have to live with.

“In many trades, in some circumstances you can’t even hire directly. You call the union hall and tell them you want a cook. Someone looks out in the lobby, asks who here is a cook, and they send one over. If he accepts the work. If not, the next cook through the door gets the assignment. And that is who you get.

“That’s just not right, I don’t care who you are.

“Here in Virginia and other right-to-work states you and I retain that right to negotiate my salary and benefits such as my extra bacon and toast and hash browns. As do any other non-union workers you hire.

“Right to work laws simply prevent unions from imposing mandatory fees on anyone who chooses not to pay them. What’s wrong with that? Right to work has no effect on collective bargaining. All negotiations remain the same as before.

“Many, hell, all, of the objections I’ve heard these last few days repeat the AFL-CIO claim that:

“…unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.” They contend they should not have to represent workers who do not pay their “fair share.”

“That sounds good, and warm, and fuzzy. It is warm and fuzzy, but not true. As I said before, the National Labor Relations Act does not MANDATE any such thing. It allows it, but DOES NOT mandate it.

“Be careful of what you sign Clyde.

“The Supreme Court has ruled such as this on many occasions. My research turned up this:

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act’s coverage “is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … ‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”

“Now Chris, Rita, and any other new hires may want to actually read their contract. It may contain language that says last hired, first laid off. This probably wont affect you two, as the ASSEs were just voted in a few weeks ago. But an astute new hire will see that and refuse to join. A “members only” contract makes a merit system impossible.

Google Megan Sampson.

One of the first entries you will find is a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report:

“In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.”

“You and Rita are firmly in place. Should a better cook or waitress come along, and Clyde needs to reduce staff, is it in his best interest to retain the best? Of course it is. It’s in your best interest as well because those better employees may just increase Clyde’s business enough that he calls you back.

“Which brings me to my final statement. I was once a proud Teamster. I witnessed one too many instances of union thuggery terrorism and promptly removed myself from being associated with such stuff.

“Actually I didn’t just witness it. I lived through it and could have died by it. During a steel hauler’s strike, not Teamster affiliated I don’t think, I was leaving Pittsburgh via the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A cold, freezing rain was falling. Shortly after exiting the Squirrel Hill tunnel I drove under an overpass.

“A group of strikers was on the overpass pouring drums of diesel fuel onto the already icy roadway below.

“Ahead was the worst pileup of motor conveyances I ever saw. I tried to slow down. I knew I could not stop.

“I steered as best I could toward the center where there was a small gap.

“I was showered by broken safety class and finally came to a stop just beyond the melee.

“It turned out that my side mirrors and parts of my wildly fishtailing trailer were all that made contact, but the mirrors had slammed into the side windows of the cab. That’s where the broken glass came from.

“I was uninjured other than a few cuts, but it made for a very cold and uncomfortable drive back to Roanoke. Where I vowed to never be associated with such terrorism again.

“Chris, Rita, I don’t know if your union contract allows you to resign or not. You might want to look into that though.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/shaunkenney Shaun Kenney

    Well done, Alton.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=792713886 James Young

    Well said. And absolutely correct about media misrepresentations about what a Right to Work law actually does, And how union misrepresentations go unchallenged in the media.