While the economy continues to limp along, as union carpenters, we must guard against an insidious movement designed to destroy our craft: the misleadingly named Right-to-Work legislation. Quite simply, Right-to-Work laws are legalized measures to break unions. These laws give the upper hand to corporations when negotiating labor contracts, effectively lowering the earning potential of skilled carpenters. Currently, there are 22 Right-to-Work states, most located in the deep South or Great Plains, states where skilled workers historically have received less in wages and benefits than their counterparts in the Northeast and West Coast. We must not let New York and New Jersey become the 24th and 23rd Right-to-Work bills have been introduced or discussed in both the Senate and Assembly of the New York and New Jersey Legislatures. Only through our good relationships with Republicans and Democrats alike have we been able to keep these bills from moving forward. That is why carpenters have to rally for those Legislative leaders who support our attempts to help our brothers and sisters find work and earn a good wage. Leaders like New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who have refused to move Right-to-Work bills through their Legislative houses.
During a sluggish economy, many people will do all that they can to attack unions and all that we have fought for. But our Brotherhood has existed for over 130 years – longer than any other trade – because of our ability to adapt to change and fight for good work, good wages, and good benefits for our skilled men and women even during difficult economic times. We 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 craft. The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters will continue to monitor this, and all other movements, that could negatively impact our union. Right-to-Work states.