The Silver Lining Behind "Right to Work" Legislation

While the IWW recognizes that recent "right to work" legislation is a blatant attempt to bankrupt unions, we also see an opportunity for unions to respond by becoming militant and more democratic, as well as teaching members that a union can function quite well without the mandatory deduction of dues from paychecks. Indeed, unions were strongest long before the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which codified labor law, and proved that victories are not dependent on the dues check-off.

In the IWW, the dues check-off is unconstitutional and workers are encouraged to pay dues either directly to a delegate, online, or through the mail. When workers understand that there is value in their union, they will want to pay dues. And when workers have complete democracy in their union, they'll know that their vote controls exactly how their dues are spent. Worried about "freeloaders?" Let the workers handle this alleged problem—not the bosses or the state.

Union membership has continued to decline since the 1950s. How low does the percentage have to plummet before workers realize that unions need a new strategy to win? Only when workers know that they are the union, that they control how it operates and how the dues are collected and spent, will unions return to the fighting machines they once were.

Don't let the state convince you that it can end union membership simply by ending the dues check-off—history has shown otherwise!