Which is why we support the rights of workers to unionize their workplaces, because it gives them the opportunity to bargain for safety rules and enforcement. Recently, the City of Lincolnshire chose to pass a law to restrict the rights of workers to unionize. They were the only City in Illinois to pass a “right to work” law. These “right to work” laws generally just make it more difficult for construction trades workers to form unions. The Purpose is to reduce the power of the workers to negotiate better pay rates and benefits. However, Collective Bargaining also impacts the work conditions for workers.
Workers in the construction trades face dangerous workplaces. Electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, steelworkers, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, carpenters, all of these professions are on and around dangerous equipment, unfinished buildings, and construction sites. This exposes them to fall risks, having objects fall on them, electric shock hazards, and injuries to joints from unbalanced loads and other risks. Clear safety rules reduce those risks. Enforcement of those rules saves lives. Trade Unions have always been strong advocates for rules to keep their members safe.
Recently, a Lincolnshire resident sued the City because his tax dollars went to defend the lawsuit that was brought against the City for passing the Law. He argues that the law violated his First Amendment rights by supporting speech he disagreed with. The Plaintiff is a member of Operating Engineers Local 150. He claimed that the City’s defense of the law would only have harmed him economically and he did not agree with their passing a law that was ruled to be unconstitutional. Thus, this is a case where workers in and around Lincolnshire were doubly-harmed. First, if the law remained, they would see their wages reduced and have less leverage to bargain for safe work places. Second, Lincolnshire spent their tax dollars on unnecessary and wasteful legal fees.
Our goal is for workers to be safe. Therefore, we represent injured construction and trade union members because they deserve safety and security for an honest day’s work. Injured workers deserve economic justice and security.