The extension of benefits has been one of the issues debated before the Constitutional Court this week as part of the requirement prompted by the approval in the National Congress of labor reform promoted by the Government.
The current labor law provides that collective bargaining agreements reach the members of the union that negotiated them and allows the employer to extend them to workers who are not part of it. In that case, the company will deduct the non-affiliates 75% of the union dues to give to the respective union. It has been criticized for this provision to assign excessive power to the employer and to encourage the disaffiliation of workers to the union because they can equally obtain the same benefits as those that are part of it at a possibly quite lower cost. Of course they would only pay 75% of the union dues paid by union members. It could also be argued that it leaves room for negotiations to various gangs that give the employer some degree of advantage in the process.
The labor reform that has been approved attempts to correct this mechanism by making the union negotiate owner of the agreements reached with the employer, requiring their approval to extend them to non-unionized workers. In addition, in case of extension of benefits, non-unionized workers are obliged to pay 100% of the union dues. The opposition claims that this rule would undermine freedom of association because it would force workers to join. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court upheld the requirement of unconstitutionality regarding the automatic extension of benefits for new union members.
Of course this is a part of a much broader debate about whether this reform of the labor market is what Chile needs to generate prosperity, higher wages and more and better jobs. For the moment, we will only pause to observe how issues of union membership have been debated elsewhere.
In the United States, as far back as 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in the so-called Abood v Detroit Board of Education that public sector workers’ unions are empowered to collect an equitable or agency fee from those employees who choose not to be Part of it. The court reasoned that as non-members could take advantage of union efforts this payment helped preserve labor peace and prevent some workers from gaining advantages at the expense of their fellow financiers. The cost of wage and benefit negotiations should be borne by all those who benefit from them. He also said that unions can not force non-members to fund other overtly political activities. This latter distinction has again been the subject of controversy by some professors in the state of California who recently raised the case before the same court, arguing that many of the arguments associated with wages and compensation are political issues and that forcing each teacher to pay An agency fee each month forced those who disagreed with them to support ideas that rejected what constituted a violation of their right to free expression. And if not for the death of one of the 9 justices of the court this year (the ruling was tied to 4), the system of mandatory financing of public sector unions would be over. It is clear that this is a multi-pronged issue.
Juan Pablo Bórquez Y.
BY I BórquezYunge Advisors