Attacks on unions

Attacks on unions

Unions ensure working people have freedom and opportunity. That means having a voice on the job, affordable health care, time off to care for those we love, and the promise of retirement security after a lifetime of hard work.

Unions have withstood decades of attacks by the big corporations and the wealthy trying to rig the economy in their favor. The rich and powerful want to silence working people’s voices so they have free rein to impose poor working conditions and take away workers’ rights.

Their tactics include “Right to Work” (RTW) laws and lawsuits that remove working people’s freedom to join together in strong unions to build better lives for their families and communities.

Under this deceptively named scheme, unions lose the authority to ask people to provide financial support for the rights and benefits that a union contract ensures, called fair-share fees.

Anti-worker groups hope people will not join unions and membership will fall, depriving unions of the resources needed to be engaged, effectively negotiate fair contracts, and improve working conditions.

More than 25 states currently have RTW laws, including Minnesota neighbors Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Dakota.

Working people have suffered as a result: family incomes are lower, fewer people have health insurance, infant mortality rates are higher; and there are more workplace deaths. Unions have also lost their voices in the workplace and public. Nurses have lost their protections for advocating for safe patient care.

U.S. Supreme Court case is attempt to silence workers’ voices
A June 2018 decision has now imposed this anti-union attack on all public-sector working people, allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of a negotiated contract without paying for it.

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 asked justices to reverse a 1976 ruling allowing unions to ask public-sector working people who receive the benefits of union representation to help share the cost through fair-share fees.

This ruling will reinvigorate efforts to pass laws undermining private-sector unions on the state level, including Minnesota.

Minnesota union workers, including MNA nurses, have successfully fought off previously attempts to impose this attack in our state and will continue to stand up for all workers’ rights if proposals come forward in the future.

A Minnesota law would have a direct effect on MNA nurses:

  • It would take away nurses’ ability to advocate for patients without fear of retaliation.
  • Without a strong union and contract, employers could unilaterally impose staffing, compensation, and other cuts that eliminate all the protections for patients that nurses fought for over many years.
  • There would be no one to stop hospitals from putting profits over patients. Nurses now are the ones who speak up about the effects of corporatizing healthcare to make sure hospitals can’t make decisions that change patient care in the name of the bottom line.
  • Public health would be endangered. Unions are the ones insisting on policies and programs that benefit all, not just the rich. Just look at what happened to the states surrounding Minnesota that imposed Right to Work laws for a preview of what could happen to Minnesota.

Here’s what MNA nurses can do to keep your freedoms and rights:

  1. Make sure your membership is up to date so our records are complete. If you signed a paper membership form before 2011, MNA is asking you to go online and fill out the new electronic form. Just log in to the Member Center on MNA’s website using the email address you shared with MNA as your user name. Click on New Online Membership Application under Membership Applications and update your form.
  2. Talk to your co-workers about the importance of standing united under these attacks.
  3. Be ready to act when called upon.

MNA nurses and other union members will continue to stand together and fight for working people and the freedom to join together to make lives better for our families and our communities.

Unions are more valuable than ever.