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The United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) encourages its nearly half-million members to be active participants in the political process. So, while the economy is remaining sluggish, the UBC members must guard against a movement designed to destroy their craft. Right-to-work is the misleading legislation that gave the upper hand to corporations when negotiating labor contracts, effectively lowering the earning potential of skilled carpenters and union members.
Right-to-work changes nothing between the employer and the workers, but does change between the union and its members. In right-to-work states, relationships between unions and their members will now have to start through education. Cliff Kerce, Political Director from the Carpenters Industrial Council, mentioned:
“since right-to-work was passed into law, workers now make their initial contact through the project employer. With this change, the UBC is pushing very hard to get new-hire packets created for all new workers in their local areas so they can educate the potential members on union opportunities and benefits.”
Right-to-work lowers wages for everyone and affects everyone differently. Joe Hudson, Political Director from the St. Louis Kansas City Regional Council, stated “every union will be impacted differently but political power shifts will still create lower wages across the board.”
At this time, right-to-work has not passed in all states and the UBC members are doing their part by educating current and prospective members on the legislative issues. Kerce mentioned, “we recognize our biggest challenge when states go right-to-work is the complete misunderstanding of what right-to-work is.” In various right-to-work states, in addition to new-hire packets, the UBC holds roadside rallies to get energy up and educate the local communities. Before right-to-work becomes a law, the UBC is going in advance to set up contracts and community events to rally around the UBC.
For states that have already passed the right-to-work legislation, UBC members and political directors are now fighting for prevailing wage which keeps pay fair and work safe. The UBC must continue to remain vigilant against all who would try and further their political agenda by scapegoating carpenters for their hard work and dedication to our crafts.