Reporter Alison Penn did a good job reporting on the City Council discussion of a resolution supporting state adoption of egregiously named right-to-work legislation.
Whoever wrote the headline “Routine resolution bitterly divides City Council” neither read the article nor understands the issue. So-called right-to-work provisions are anything but routine. They are highly controversial and usually fiercely debated.
If this resolution did not go through the usual committee process, then the vote should be negated. City Council, like all governing bodies, should adhere to proper procedure, ensuring that all parties are heard at appropriate times and in appropriate settings. It seems that this matter was not handled properly.
Handled properly or not, though, right to work is a highly charged, divisive issue and deserves more discussion than a routine resolution. Only Republicans view this issue as routine, and though City Council is technically non-partisan, its Republican underpinnings often come through loud and clear. The newspaper’s headline is pure Republican-speak as well.
I agree with Mr. Oropesa that right-to-work laws are harmful to workers. Study after study has shown that unionized workers earn more than non-unionized workers in the same geographical area and field of work and have more and better benefits through employment. They have protection from unfair labor practices that some employers use to subjugate and intimidate their employees. I cannot address the racial undertones of the issue, though I do not doubt that they are there. I just know that unions help all workers, no matter the race or gender.
In some places, these laws are called “right-to-work-for-less” laws, and for good reason. These laws help to prevent unionization, making it difficult for a union to collect enough money in the form of dues in order to properly support the workers. These laws also undermine the rule of the majority that our democracy (in fact all democracies) is founded on. When the majority votes for unionization, all workers should pay proper dues so that all may be represented. Contracts will, after all, benefit all workers.
But back to the headline. This headline reflects a Republican view of the issue that most certainly is how the mayor and most see it, but it does not reflect the reported controversy in the article. It is definitely partisan, and inappropriate for a newspaper that should be striving for impartial accuracy. Please keep our news — and your headlines — non-partisan and accurate.