On ‘right-to-work,’ Rocky Mountain News report gets it right

Despite claims by supporters of the “right-to-work” state ballot measure Amendment 47, it is against federal law for any worker in the United States to be forced to join a labor union. Now the mainstream media is starting to catch on to this fact when penning articles about the issue, and surprisingly, the trend is being led by the traditionally conservative Rocky Mountain News.

In an article published today, the Rocky Mountain News does not repeat the common gaffe being printed by many of the paper’s competitors that employees in the state are forced to join unions, a myth that is being perpetuated by supporters of the “right-to-work”amendment, a measure that seeks to restrict the way unions organize.

Instead, the paper reports what “right-to-work” would really change if enacted into law, including the fact that there is no such thing as forced unionism:

Because federal law already prohibits forced union membership, the amendment would have the effect of banning agreements that compel workers to pay union fees if they are covered by collective bargaining contracts.

In Colorado, those all-union agreements already require majority approval by workers before they take effect. And workers can request they pay only “core” dues covering the cost of union representation.

Previously a variety of papers have been quick to state the “forced unionism” meme as fact, often when choosing to endorse the measure. The Colorado Springs Gazette and Boulder Daily Camera both did it when they endorsed “right to work,” and even The Denver Post has repeated the inaccuracy, sparking criticism from union supporters and Colorado Media Matters.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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