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