Senate Bill 469 is an attack on labor, no doubt. But it is also an attack on our ability to speak, and thus, an infringement on our right to speak. So, if you’re feeling all warm and cozy in your non-labor-related First Amendment Rights, I’m thinking you may be in avoidance mode.
Because it is an attack on labor, SB469 attacks workers. Each worker in the state of Georgia. Even though it exempts from some aspects of its attack the few organized under the Railway Labor Act and all educators, and the fraternal or brotherly orders (the latter two, as long they are behaving themselves), it attacks us all, organized and represented or not.
This morning, I don’t have the energy to explain why. I just want to say, if you really need, and want, an explanation for how this works, please ask me directly and we can talk over coffee. Seriously. But my writing fingers are wanting to be hiking fingers, or even laundry fingers, this morning. So.
Suffice it to say, the bill does this in a few ways:
- By devoting lots and lots of words to telling workers that they have a right to work in Georgia without being a member of a union. Really? We had that right (not a right to work, mind you; just a right to not join a union), you misleading mother crunchers. So don’t go telling innocents, the ones who don’t understand this legislation, that you have done something for them. You haven’t. You just wanted to poke labor in the eye. Good use of my tax dollars, Senator Balfour and your 33 cronies. Although maybe all of them didn’t really understand this. I’ll give them that. Section 2. 34-6-9(a)
- By making employees have to do more than make a decision once that they want to be a member of a union in order to have dues deducted from his or her paycheck. In fact, as an employee, I must now provide a written notification every year that I want to remain in the union and want my dues deducted to make this happen. Imagine that if you had to, in writing, authorize your health insurance every year or your coverage would be cancelled. You get that, don’t you? Come on. They know that there are others out there like me, who will forget to turn in the annual written authorization. I’d forget to get health insurance every year if Open Season didn’t default to continuing the same coverage. I do believe that I, like most people, would remember if I didn’t like my coverage. Just as an employee would remember to disavow his or her union if he or she were unhappy. Come on. Oh, I said that. Section 3. 34-6-25(a)
- By sweetening Number 2 for the employers, by making it unlawful for employers to contract with a union which utilizes this payroll-deduction form of payment without this annual written authorization. Section 4. 34-6-26(a)
- By being a clear kowtow to management (if employers whine about it, they don’t have to post the message that my new bill says they should but don’t have to post). Section 2. 34-6-9(c)&(d)
- By expanding criminal prosecution to being able to be convicted of both conspiring to commit trespass and committing criminal trespass. I’m not a criminal procedure expert, but suffice it to say, they expanded this, in this labor bill, so they’re just trying to whack labor with as much as they can. And the icing on the cake is that, if convicted of both, the conspiracy is characterized as a misdemeanor of “high and aggravated nature.” Section 5. 16-7-21(d)(2)
The bottom line for Georgians is:
Don’t organize. Don’t picket. Don’t suggest to someone else that they picket. Don’t carry a sign on the public street lest you interfere with someone’s cocktail party or trunk show. Your 4th Amendment Rights might be safe here in Georgia. But the ones you need if your Fourths – or any of the others – start being eroded by your government, that is, your Firsts? Not so much.
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