published Friday, December 14th, 2012

Another blow to unions

Joye Camacho and right-to-work protestors with tape over their mouths march on the sidewalk in front of the Kent County GOP headquarters in Grand Rapis, Mich.
Joye Camacho and right-to-work protestors with tape over their mouths march on the sidewalk in front of the Kent County GOP headquarters in Grand Rapis, Mich.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Tennessee and other so-called "right-to-work" states haven't seen much union-oriented labor unrest in decades, largely because it's been so long since unions in right-to-work states were emasculated. So the latest union-busting tactics in Michigan, like those recently in Indiana and Wisconsin, recall mostly distant memories, if any, for most area workers.

Still, the Michigan fray -- pitting thousands of union advocates pressed against lines of helmeted police blocking their path to the halls of a Capitol where Republican legislators were shredding their right to effective unions -- is evocative of past battles for workers' rights everywhere.

Unions in Southern states were shorn long ago of their authority to require new employees to join a union if they took a job in a business that had them. After paving the way for free-riders to enjoy union-negotiated wages, lawmakers and congressmen serving as the hand maidens of industrialists found other ways to help industry chiefs evade unions. For example, they allowed employers essentially to limit or fragment union efforts to organize workers, and to stalemate contract agreements with endless negotiations. Unions thus weakened have gradually lost their clout to negotiate wages for what once were family-wage jobs.

That distinction, and the resulting decline in wage levels, clearly prompted a shift of jobs from old-line unionized states to the low-wage states. The flux of auto-related jobs to the South -- car plants and their myriad suppliers -- reflects that. As President Obama said at a rally in Michigan this week, the right-to-work law is counter-productive for workers and, we would add, gravy for CEOs.

"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have anything to do with economics," Obama said. "They have everything to do with politics. What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."

The arrival of Michigan, a pivotal union-founding stronghold, as the 24th right-to-work state may well help spread the deceiving infection to other states where employees in union shops are still required either to join the union, or to pay it a fee for its negotiated benefits.

There is, in fact, a clear divide in higher wage levels, educational achievement and poverty in states that do not allow free-riders on union shops and benefits. A Notre Dame study last January found the average value of nonfarm wages and benefits in states that have not passed the right-to-work law was $65,567, versus $57,732 in those with the law.

Americans can surely see the benefit of the law to CEOs, whose compensation packages in recent decades have soared into the multi-million-dollar strata. It's no surprise that 93 percent of the wealth gains from 2000 to 2010 went to the top 1 percent of megamillionaire earners, while the rest of us share the leftover 7 percent. Nor is it a surprise that pensions for executives are leaving pension funds for thousands of their employees underfunded or bankrupt; nor that corporate profits have soared while jobs and wage gains have stagnated or gone backwards for most workers in the past two decades.

Unions may have sometimes caused some of their own problems, through feather-bedding and over-reaching job protections and grievance procedures. But these deviations have largely been corrected. What has not been corrected is the vast abuse of executives to take the lion's share of corporate profits at the expense of living-wage jobs and benefits for the employees who provide their profits. There should be a balance point for employee wages and benefits versus executive compensation and perks, but it does not exist, and won't unless unions are allowed reasonable space to negotiate for workers.

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joneses said...

I recently witnessed the childish, hate filled, thuggery by these uneducated, mindless, union fools that is so indicative of the liberal philosophy that it confirmed again for me and my families safety I will continue not buying and driving these over priced POS cars made by these stupid, immature, unintellectual, liberal, union puppets. Why would anyone want to own a car made by someone who lacks the basic ability to think for themselves? Do you remember the union Chrysler workers that were caught smoking pot and drinking on their break? They all returned to work to manufacture the vehicles you people are driving. Remember, buying a union made car is a monetary donation to through the union dues these union idiots are being suckered into paying to the dummycratic party and this marxist fool that occupies the White House.

December 14, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.
Walden said...

If you think an individual should be obligated to join a union simply because they are hired by a certain company, then you are a totalitarian ass in need of serious help. Opposition to right to work laws is about one thing, and one thing only -- filtering money to the Democrat party. Workers pay dues, thugs collect said dues, thugs donate dues to Democrat protectors. Its a racket, and thankfully states like Wisconsin and Michigan are waking up to it and putting a stop to it.

December 14, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Lansing – Less than 24 hours after Governor Snyder signed his damaging “Right to Work” legislation into law, analysis shows that the flawed legislation may not even have the result the Governor claimed it would, raising serious questions about whether the Republican leadership even read the language of the bills before voting it through and signing it into law.

“It's become increasingly clear that the Governor presented the legislature with bills written by out-of-state extremists who had no understanding of Michigan's constitution or how our laws apply to Michigan workers,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer. “This is what happens when the Governor does an 11th hour about face in a lame duck session showing utter contempt for our people by cutting out all public input, scrutiny and debate. That isn't leadership, it's epic incompetence .”

December 14, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.
hambone said...

joneses and Walden, I see you have fallen for the BIG LIE. Been watching too much FOX.

It is against fereral law for one penny of union dues to be used for politics. Union PACs use volutary contributions given by members of their own free will.

December 14, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
Walden said...

hambone the BIG LIE is Liberalism, and the sheople populating this country have fallen for it time and again.

December 14, 2012 at 2:16 p.m.
chatt_man said...

justonewoman - I guess this is what can happen when our representatives start passing legislation so they can read it.

December 14, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.

Walden, not so much as they fall for the Faux Patriotism and Faux Americanism as represented by the right-wing.

chatt_man, except in example Pelosi was talking about, there really were people lying about the law. And still are.

Same with this one, mind you, but it doesn't change the principle, that sometimes you have to see the result.

Unfortunately, that can be bad as well as good.

December 14, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.
joneses said...

The primary causes of inflation are unions and taxes which happen to be what the democrats love most.

December 15, 2012 at 8:04 a.m.
hambone said...

Some how I just don't think it would do any good to ask you to show proof of your 8:04 post would it joneses?

December 15, 2012 at 8:29 a.m.
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