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Today is another dark day for labor, this time it hits home, literally.

Governor Snyder, despite massive public opposition, is planning on making Michigan the 24th so called "Right to Work" state.

Right to work is an extremely disingenuous title for this legislation. In fact the whole premise is deceptive. Here's why:

 Right to work doesn't have anything to do with the right to work, it gives the choice for employees to opt out of paying union dues in a unionized shop. For someone who doesn't want their money going to a union that sounds fair to them, but those who do not pay still benefit from union contracts negotiated on their behalf by members who pay dues. It's a free rider problem.

So much for the conservative value of not being a freeloader.

The ability to opt out of paying union dues has a significant effect on the unions ability to collectively bargain for things like wages, benefits packages, and pensions. Without money from dues unions are not able to run ad campaigns and operate on behalf of workers.

We've all seen the effect of declining union membership. As the chart shows as union membership have declined, so have middle class wages. In fact, in 2010 union membership had declined to the lowest rate in over 70 years.

Let's compare wages to corporate profits over that same 70 year period.

The red line is corporate profits, the blue line is wages. See a problem?

Not if you're a CEO, but for the middle class this is an absolute disaster.

7 out of the 10 poorest states are red, southern, and have right to work laws in place. If it doesn't work there, why would anyone think it could work anywhere?

It's all about perception:

According to a 2011 Gallup poll52% of respondents approve of labor unions. while 42% disapprove of labor unions. Once again we see the 70 year number pop up as labor unions see the lowest approval ratings within that time frame especially in 2009 when approval hit the record low of 48% approval.

There's a sharp partisan divide in the Gallup numbers as well, with 78% of Democrats giving approval to unions while Republicans only gave them an all time low of 26% approval.

Part of this mentality is probably due to unions being considered more pro democrat.

That's not always true, although now unions do favor democrats more often, it might surprise you to know that the largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police  regularly backed Republicans until this election cycle. The FOP backed George W. Bush in 2000, and 2004, and John McCain in 2008. The normally Republican leaning International Association of Firefighters also made a surprise move by backing President Obama this election cycle. This shows that even public sector unions don't always vote for democrats. There was even a Republican pro-union super pac called the "Lunch Pail Republicans" that contributed $678,000 exclusively to Republican candidates running for House and Senate seats. Though I'm not sure how pro union you can be when you regularly back candidates whose opponents are usually backed by actual unions.

There is another reason for the partisan divide on unions.

Stories like this, from Fox News tend to anger...well pretty much everyone. But stories like these are often used as anecdotal evidence that unions protect the bad, lazy workers. But that's a myth. This particular story from Fox News is a great example. What Fox doesn't really explain, is why those people were rehired after a two year period of unemployment. What happened was that the employees filed an appeal to the union. The company and the union agreed to leave the decision to a third party arbiter. Both the union and GM were sworn to comply with the decision of the outside third party. That means the decision was not made by the union, and the union itself only presented the case to GM, it couldn't force GM to rehire these worksers. Let's have merriam-webster break it down:


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)
Process of resolving a dispute or a grievance outside a court system by presenting it for decision to an impartial third party. Both sides in the dispute usually must agree in advance to the choice of arbitrator and certify that they will abide by the arbitrator's decision. In medieval Europe arbitration was used to settle disputes between merchants; it is now commonly used in commercial, labour-management, and international disputes. The procedures differ from those used in the courts, especially regarding burden of proof and presentation of evidence. Arbitration avoids costly litigation and offers a relatively speedy resolution as well as privacy for the disputants. The main disadvantage is that setting guidelines is difficult; therefore the outcome is often less predictable than a court decision. See also mediation.

So in this case, the arbiter was the one who forced GM to rehire these loathsome workers, not the union.

I also always hear the argument that unions kill jobs, but that in itself is a logical fallacy. Why would a union, who's workers depend on the success of a company, kill the company? It makes no sense. We've seen many unions take pay cuts to avoid layoffs.

Anti-Labor proponents counter this by bringing up Hostess that on it's website says:

We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets
 What a load of crap.

Hostess was in trouble long before the final round of contract negotiations with the bakers union. But it wasn't unreasonable demands that killed the twinkie, but a long string of dumbass CEO's that kept hiking their own pay despite two bankruptcies. They also had painful concessions from the unions but still the CEO's continued to blame unions for the companies woes.

It's these and other factors, such as jealousy of union pay and benefits ("Those damn union people get paid too much!") that set the stage for politicians to set up right to work laws.

These politicians lie to the people by telling them that unions are the problem, and that they should have the "choice" to not pay union dues. Not only that but they promise jobs, higher pay and better economic outcomes. Sounds kinda like what they promised with that whole trickle down economics plan.

How did that work out again?

There is simply no evidence that right to work even increases employment.

But that didn't stop Michigan republicans from cramming this law through in a record of 7 hours, and it also didn't stop governor Snyder from flip-flopping into supporting this disgusting law.

What this law boils down to is an attack on the middle class and another redistribution of wealth to the top from the pockets of hard working middle class people. And to those who point out one or two of the douchebags that do take advantage of collective bargaining (see the Fox News article) Remember that for every douchebag, there are hundreds of honest middle class workers who don't deserve the shaft. One or two examples do not represent the whole.

See the original posted on my own blog at:

Originally posted to Another Progressive Blog on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You'll get... (0+ / 0-) sympathy for me.

    I live in a red state where "right to work" laws will be in place for the next 100 years.

    But we know what we are getting, because we are a poor, uneducated state constantly susceptible to right wing conspiracy theories & Southern Strategy campaign tactics.

    But Michigan?  Michigan should know better.

    Snyder showed up as a right wing bullshitter yet got elected anyway.

    It's really not hard to figure out:  Elect a Republican governor & sooner or later the people are going to suffer.

    Unless you are Wisconsin, & decided to elect your right wing Destructor twice.

    "You just gotta keep on livin man! L-I-V-I-N!" - Wooderson

    by wyvern on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:19:02 PM PST

    •  Harsh.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...But a fair point to make. Michigan was a huge bastion of labor, if right to work can win here it can win almost anywhere.  

      this speaks to the effectiveness of propaganda outlets like Fox news to get people who will benefit from unions to bash them out of ignorance or jealousy.

  •  Can we get a "Right to Golf" law so I can go (3+ / 0-)

    to those nice "Private" clubs where they force you to pay dues before you can use the golf course. I want to use the golf course for free, if other's want to pay for it, that's fine, but I want choice.

    I want to choose the golf course, I want to choose the time, I want to choose the price (and free sounds good to me), please Mr. Governor, free the golf courses from those abusive "member" that demand that I pay dues.

    •  Me, too! I'd like to go golfing at a local country (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfm, AnotherProgressive

      club. I don't have a membership. But I'm going to golf anyway. I should get the benefits of their membership and be treated like a member. Why should I pay for a membership? The golf course is already there, they have carts, clubs and golf balls just sitting around. I can put them to good use on the golf course. Someone has already figured out all the logistics of the golf course, and paid for it, so I think I should use it, too. Why not?

      Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

      by 50sbaby on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:43:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question. (0+ / 0-)

    Must contracts actually cover every employee?  Can't labor unions negotiate only for dues paying members?

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