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Oakdale Teacher Speaks Against 'Right to Work' Legislation

An Oakdale teacher said giving some employees a 'free ride' on the backs of union members goes against Republican principles. (Scroll ahead to 25:20 in the video to see Lundgren's speech.)

An Oakdale teacher was at the Minnesota State Capitol Monday making the case for why Republicans ought to oppose so-called “right to work” legislation.

special education teacher Jennifer Lundgren spoke before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on the legislation, which would ask voters whether to amend the state's constitution to make it illegal to collect union dues or fees from employees who choose not to be members.

Lundgren said she is one of about a quarter of Education Minnesota members who are Republican.

“It is this misguided legislation like ‘right to work’ that makes it so hard for many of us educators to openly embrace our Republican values,” Lundgren said. “The ‘right to work’ legislation proposed is quite simply a free ride for employees in a bargaining unit who choose not to be union members.”

If the bill were to become law, non-union employees would benefit from a bargained contract, representation in disciplinary matters and lobbying at the Capitol at the union members’ expense, Lundgren said. Currently non-union members still pay a “fair share” fee for those services, she said, but under the right to work legislation, they wouldn’t have to.

“I believe it is safe to say that as Republicans we are fundamentally against a free ride,” she said. “As a Republican and a responsible person, ‘right to work’ legislation is against my values and I believe it’s against yours.”

Contract negotiations can be a time consuming and expensive process, Lundgren said, and all employees who benefit from the negotiated contract should help pay for the process.

“’Right to work’ legislation would simply be inviting the free ride mentality that is crumbling the very foundation of our society,” she said. “At what point are we going to stop supporting those who choose not to pay for themselves?”

About 1,500 union workers were at the Capitol to protest the bill, according to the Pioneer Press, and their cheers could be heard after Lundgren spoke.

The committee ended up passing the bill on a 7-6 vote, according to the report. The bill goes next to the Senate Rules Committee, the report says.

 

To watch Lundgren's speech, scroll ahead to 25:20 in the video.

Christopher Campbell March 12, 2012 at 08:01 PM
What's to stop the school districts from amending the pay, either higher or lower, of those employees who opt out of the union. They could be payed based off of their merits and not steps & lanes. Just because the union negotiates, it doesn't necessarily equate that non-union teachers will receive the same union benefits.
Robin Dial March 14, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Mr. Campbell, did you even take the time to watch the video in its entirety? Right to work is unfair, unsafe and unnecessary. If you enjoy your weekends, you can thank a union. If you enjoy having health care, you can thank your union. If you are have some kind of retirement, you can thank your union. And, what if you are unfairly laid off or fired, your union dues will help pay for the union to defend you. If you aren't happy with the wages and benefits you are currently getting, your union dues will help the union help you negotiate a contract that is fair for you. Mr. Campbell, I urge you to do some research on this. Right to work will hurt the middle class and YOU!
Robin Dial March 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
And let me add more: If Right to work does get written into our State Constitution, the workplace as we know it will change for the worse. People, who choose not to pay for union dues, will get a "free ride" from those who do pay their dues. That means, they will get all the benefits that the unions negotiate for you, paid by members who pay. This is unfair. Furthermore, with cuts in dues, Unions will not be able to negotiate for priorities that protect workers in the workplace. Employers will be able to "cut corners" to maximize profits. This will make the workplace more unsafe. And, Right to work states will decrease wages, on average, for the working middle class, and will ultimately increase our unemployment rate and the economy. Right to work is not a right to have a job, but the right to work for less! Please watch this video. Listen to what the workers, both employees and employers, are saying. Please oppose Right to Work!
Lifer March 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I think the number of republican teachers is more than 25%. Unfortunately, there are many in that profession that are "closet republicans". I applaud Ms. Lundgren for standing her ground.
Christopher Campbell March 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Robin, I wasn't making an argument for or against right to work. I was attempting to draw light to the fact that just because someone chooses not to contribute union dues, it does not automatically mean they will earn the same pay and benefits as the union employees. The company may choose to compensate a non-union employee based on their merits, not a union contract. I do have a couple of questions for you though. Please explain to me how having some employees in a union and others not in the union will make the workplace unsafe? And how does more vacation, better health benefits and higher wages protect employees in the workplace? The last time I checked, we have OSHA who is responsible for ensuring workplace safety. I understand why unions were important in the early 20th century, but they are now a dinosaur of a system that needs to be retired.
Robin Dial March 15, 2012 at 11:12 PM
(continuation from previous comment box). OSHA actually came into existence because of Unions. Workplace safety and wages are two different things. I wish we lived in a world that work place safety was not an issue. I am sure you heard about all of the miners that died in West Virginia? Their bosses told employees that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they must disconnect sensors that measure gases in the coal minds before inspectors showed up. That cost many workers their lives. Police must bargain through their Unions to get bullet proof jackets. Fire Fighters must bargain for their equipment too. I am sure that in certain communities this is not the case. Some citizens care more than others. About wages, the nice thing about fairly compensated employees is that they spend their money in there communities and help businesses to survive. There is plenty of data showing that in non Right to Work states that a thriving Middle class exists. Part of this existence is because Union employees are fairly compensated and invest in there states. Remember that union members pay taxes too and this helps everyone.
Robin Dial March 15, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Chris- I hope I answer your questions here. Due to the number of words, I had to use two comment boxes. A Business operates to make money. That would be money for their CEO’s or money for there share holders. Employees are a controllable expense. You are only going to spend the very minimum you have to on your employees. A business will only invest in employees if it will further there bottom line. Unions give a voice to the employees. Why would a business out of the kindness of their heart give something to an employee if it was not going to make money for the business? One could argue that an investment in the employee would result in better productivity? One could also argue that it is easier to use up employees and hire new ones at lower rates. A Union provides the “counter balance” against the business. It insures that there are protections in place to make sure that the employee has recourse if an abuse takes place. I know that Unions have been accused of “being greedy” but to drain the blood from an employer would be counter productive. An employee’s job could not exist without a business existing. Unions are made up of people! When people stand together they have a stronger voice. I am sure that you remember something from school that goes like this, “United we stand, divided we fall” I do believe that all any American wants is to be able to provide for their families and be able to come home from work safe and healthy.
Christopher Campbell March 16, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Robin, I fail to see how a union population of 12% of the workforce can create a thriving middle class. Also, if employers are going to spend only the minimum on their employees, why do so many pay more than the minimum wage? I would also contest your statement that businesses operate to make money for their CEOs. In any public company, the CEO is an employee just like you or I, so they take home a paycheck. Do you invest in 401k, mutual funds, the stock market? If so, you should hope that businesses make money, because you're an owner of those businesses and are reaping the rewards. I think you're approaching this from the standpoint that all employers are out to screw over the employees. Well, as you pointed out, an employees job could not exist without a business existing, the inverse is also true, without the employee, the business could not exist. It is not in an employers best interest to treat their employees poorly. The great thing about a free market is if you're not happy with your employer, you can find other employment. I think we'll just need to agree to disagree but I would leave you with this. It is a fact that non-union employees are also fairly compensated in many of the lines of business where they work. The union is not the end all be all that many claim. One final thought, how is is fair to force someone to pay into a non-government organization that they don't believe in. I don't believe it is.
Robin Dial March 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Chris- I appreciate our back in forth discussion. It's good to have different opinions. We may not agree on issues, but that's what makes us American. I am not saying that all employers are bad. I have just seen so many that "cut corners" in order to maximize their bottom line. Right now, workers do have a choice in working in a union job or not. But, if they are working in a "union job," they should know that the union is there to help them negotiate a fair contract, with safety measures and benefits, and to defend them should they be fired or laid off unfairly. In a union job, however, the work that the union does benefits ALL employees, whether they support the union or not. That is why they must pay at least a "fair share." They are getting a service. And, as we know, you can't get a service for free. Before people "knock" the union, they should try to find out what the union does for them. And, if they still don't like it, they can look for another job. Let me tell you, I would rather pay a small dues fee knowing that I have a "say" in my job and knowing I have someone backing me. Unions pump in a lot of money to support and defend their members. All I really want is for hard working people to educate themselves in what is going on in this country. Find out the facts, and then make a conclusion. It was nice talking with you, even though we may not agree.

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