Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Colorado’s UFCW Admit 50% of Membership Wants Out But Are Forced to Pay Dues

Denver Post columnist Al Lewis reports on something the union bosses really don’t like to talk about; the huge percentage of workers they “represent” who want nothing to do with a union.

Unfortunately, far too many workers are trapped in a union and forced to pay dues just because some workers, at some point, wanted to join. Workers may come and go, but unions can keep their stranglehold long after a majority of workers have decided it’s not worth the price.

And that’s why union boss Ernest Duran is terrified of a Colorado amendment on the ballot that would give workers some measure of freedom:

Half of Colorado’s United Food and Commercial Workers would stop paying union dues if they could, according to the group’s local president.

In a May 1 letter to members, Ernest Duran warns that the right-to-work initiative headed for Colorado’s November ballot would decimate his ranks of dues-paying members.

“If this amendment passes, we will enter all future negotiations divided,” Duran wrote. “In my opinion, we will enter with less than 50 percent of the workers as union members.”

If Amendment 47 passes, no one could be forced to pay union dues. Under current state law, those working at union-organized companies may have to pay union dues whether they like it or not.

Sounds like plenty of Rocky Mountain region grocery workers don’t like it. In the right-to-work state of Wyoming, for example, the UFCW counts less than 40 percent of workers at companies where it has organized, Duran laments.

“Before we start to negotiate, we are divided,” Duran wrote. “Unity is the workers’ greatest strength. Less than 40 percent simply cannot fight effectively for 100 percent of the workers.”

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