The City's Pulse Newsletter
Workers Rights and Private Votes

Idaho is a right to work state. People often believe that right to work is bad; that it bans all unions and keeps wages low, but that is not the case.

Right to work does not keep unions out. It does not set wage limits. It gives every worker the freedom to join a union or not join, and their job cannot be taken away from them, whatever their decision about membership.

Idaho's Right to Work law says, "... in order to maximize individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment...the right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion. The right to work shall not be infringed or restricted in any way based on membership in... a labor organization or on refusal to join... 
(Approved by Referendum November 4, 1986.)

Individual freedom of choice.  Don't we all consider that a basic  American right?  And don't we always think of our vote as a confidential matter, one that is private and cannot be used to intimidate us?  Get ready for that to change.

Our new president promised change, and we may get far more than we imagined.  

One of the campaign promises President Obama is now pushed to deliver is called "Card Check".  This effort is sponsored by the unions and will take away private voting for employees when it comes to union issues.  According to the US Chamber of Commerce, "By forcing workers to sign a card in public--instead of vote in private--Card Check opens the door to intimidation and coercion. Over 70% of voters agree that a private election is better than card check."

You might be thinking there's no way this audacious violation of our basic rights would ever be signed into law.  Think again.  This very legislation nearly passed last year. And Senator Barack Obama, who was a co-sponsor of the legislation, declared that he will make card check "the law of the land when I'm president of the United States." 

His support was no surprise. Forbes magazine reports that Big Labor pumped nearly $400 million into Obama's campaign and those of other Democrats, "likely the single largest buying spree ever by an interest group."

Now it's payback time.  Union membership in our country has been dwindling since the  1950's when it peaked at 35% of the workforce. It is now down below 8%. This new legislation will give unions strong muscles to convince employees they must sign up.  The law also includes serious penalties for businesses that don't follow the new rules, but has no penalties for unions that get out of control.

The actual name of the Card Check legislation is the "Employee Free Choice Act".  Can you believe that?  It's as if someone thought up a name that is exactly opposite of what the law will really do.   So, speak up and speak often on this important subject of worker's rights.  Don't be fooled by misleading names.  Let our congressmen know we want our voting privacy to be protected, both in the voting booth and on the job.

In an effort to point out local government doing the right thing, let me draw your attention to a Letter to the Editor in last Sunday's Press.  In the past few weeks there have been several citizens writing in, asking why the Kootenai County Jail did not use prisoners to shovel the snow off their roof.  These were legitimate concerns.  Instead of the cold shoulder method used by the City of CdA and NIC when citizens ask questions, the jail administrators responded quickly and clearly.

Captain Travis Chaney, Jail Bureau Commander, wrote the informative and respectful letter.  He said "Please know that we respect the concerns our citizens have about expending public funds to hire a private contractor to remove snow. The following are facts which compelled the final decision to hire a licensed and bonded private contractor."  Capt. Chaney then went on to explain the details and how they reached their decision.

This communication thing is not complicated, no matter what some "experts" say.  It is simple: Listen to people, treat them with respect and offer straightforward information.  

Have a great week! --Mary


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Mary Souza has been a concerned citizen of CdA for over 20 years. She's a local small business owner, former P&Z Commissioner and wrote an opinion column in the CdA Press on local issues.  Her opinions are her own.

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