My Turn, Justin Tipton: Push back against anti-union propaganda

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 20, 2021

By Justin Tipton

I find it extremely concerning that U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx and state Sen. Carl Ford are urgently pushing one sided, anti-union propaganda.

I’m referencing the article published Wednesday titled “Union coercion threatens hardworking North Carolinians.” The opposition appears, to me, to reflect the corporate interests and corruption that has plague the south for enumerable generations.

I know some people familiar with Appalachian history will recall our trouble past with labor laws, and how many have suffered under a yolk of oppression from unethical corporation who exploit the south for its labor and resources. Even to this day, our supposed representatives want to change the very state constitution at the slightest hint of collective labor organization being relevant. I encourage every single person to do their due diligence on these claims.

The truth, is that H.R. 842 does not make it legal to “coerce” people to pay union dues. You are protected from any form of union coercion under existing state and federal law; what our friends failed to mention is that the law allows unions to require dues of collective “bargaining units” — in other words, individuals in a union. Their goal is to frame this as a bill that forces you to pay a union money for no reason at all. That’s a dubious claim at best and an outright lie at the worst.

What you are not protected from is corporate coercion, which this law does intend to affect. If you would like to see an example of why it is important to protect workers’ First Amendment rights, you need only look to the latest attempted unionization in the south at the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon warehouse. Lying to workers about where and when to vote, lying about union dues, demanding workers vote in person, misleading workers about the costs of a union, lying about how they cant afford to pay union wages, collecting union ballots and firing the people who called for a union are practices our representatives want to defend. Their opposition is shallow, transparent and immediately dismissed.

They won’t tell you that collective bargaining leads to higher pay for both union and non-union workers. They won’t tell you about the disparity in pay between southern workers and our union counterparts. They won’t tell you how unions defend workers from being fired, provided better benefits to workers, provided retirement benefits to workers and better health care coverage than what corporations provided their employees. I can think of nothing more tragic for the history of Appalachia, for the current and future workers of our state, then to enshrine a petty corporatocracy into our constitution.

I encourage everyone who wants something better, for all the working people of North Carolina, to push back on this narrative. I ask that y’all, and especially our “representatives,” read the damn bill.

Justin Tipton lives in Salisbury.