STUDY: Missouri Workers Would Lose “Between $4.58 and $6 Billion Annually” Under ‘Right-to-Work’

by Chaz Bolte

cl_RTW_For_Less_NoD_271c8Rule one in the “Right-to-Work” implementation playbook is to tie its potential passage to an inevitable economic rebound.  Yet, history has shown that “Right-to-Work” is more of an economic slow bleed than a miracle maker.

As the Missouri state legislature prepares to debate the merits of becoming the 25th “Right-to-Work” state in the U.S., it is important for the general public to understand the ramifications of such a path. And a new report released Monday by University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Michael Kelsay helps with that very task, concluding that “Right-to-Work” laws would severely harm Missouri’s middle class workers.  The numbers for statewide income loss? In the billions. Continue reading

Boeing’s Wage-Slashing Move to SC Backfires as Company Can’t Meet 787 Production Demand

by Chaz Bolte

Boeing-787-groundedWhen Boeing left Washington for South Carolina in order to suppress the wages of its workers, it also left behind the quality work that had been provided by a highly skilled, union workforce.  Now, that union-busting is backfiring as productivity has dropped immensely and Boeing is unable to meet their 787 Dreamliner production goals.

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Workers’ Labor Needs to be Defined More in Terms of Property Rather than Commodities

Oren Levin -Waldman

Oren Levin -Waldman

When states pass right-to-work laws, they claim that they are creating working conditions conducive to choice. Workers can choose to join a union or not, but because these laws effectively bar closed shops workers are no longer coerced to join unions. Opponents of these laws point out the obvious: because unionization efforts have been made more difficult, the power of unions is diminished, and so too are the legitimate rights of workers. And yet, right-ro-work laws rest on a fundamental assumption which has long permeated American labor law. That is, employers have property rights while workers do not. Hence the asymmetrical balance of power between workers and their employers.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was so important when it was passed in 1935 because it called for collective-bargaining as a means to prevent labor strife and instability in labor markets. By threatening to strike, which was now legal, employers would be forced to bargain with their employees. Prior to passage of the NLRA, employers could easily assert their property rights and claim that unions and strikes were an infringement of those rights. The courts originally took the position that unions were illegal because they violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by creating labor monopolies in restraint of free trade. Nobody would deny that they were monopolies, but institutional economists maintained that so long as workers had neither power nor property rights, they needed a measure of bargaining power that only unions and collective bargaining could afford them. Then when states attempted to pass maximum hours and minimum wage laws, which would effectively grant a measure of monopoly bargaining power to those not covered by collective bargaining agreements, the courts held them to be a violation of liberty of contract. Continue reading

Propelled By ALEC, ‘Right-to-Work’ Assault on Unions Reaches Pennsylvania

by Bruce Vail

Pennsylvania labor is primed for the fight: An April 11, 2011 Teamsters rally against previous right-to-work legislation drew some 400 protestors to the state Capitol.   (The Rick Smith Show / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Pennsylvania labor is primed for the fight: An April 11, 2011 Teamsters rally against previous right-to-work legislation drew some 400 protestors to the state Capitol. (The Rick Smith Show / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Backed by powerful national business interests, conservative legislators in Pennsylvania announced last week a new push to bring so-called “right-to-work” laws to the Keystone state. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said January 22 that he and five other Republican legislators would introduce a package of bills aimed at crippling the ability of labor unions to collect dues from members.

Pennsylvania labor leaders say the package is part of a broad assault on labor that began in 2010 when the GOP won control of the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. Continue reading

10 Things to Know About What Happened in Michigan On Thursday

by Doug Foote

Photo by @PeterKlein77 on Twitter

Photo by @PeterKlein77 on Twitter

1.) The Michigan House and Senate yesterday [Thursday=tu] passed so-called “right to work” bills. “Right to work” laws effectively defund the ability of workers to have a voice at their workplace. In 23 other states, these laws have lowered wages, weakened benefits, raised the poverty rate, and led to increased workplace injuries and deaths. The House passed one such bill and the Senate passed two.

2.) Republican leaders in Michigan were not honest about their intent. The morning began with Governor Rick Snyder reversing his earlier position on the “right to work.” He had previously said that the bill was “not on his agenda,” and that it was a divisive issue – but then yesterday, he suddenly urged the House and Senate to pass the bill and said he would sign it when it reached his desk. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville previously opposed “right to work,” but expressed support for it on Thursday morning.

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Kicking Underdogs When They Are Down

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

In a nation enamored of underdogs, the sudden surge of right-to-work (for less) legislation is confounding. Right-to-work (for less) laws are perks for the wealthy, for the top dogs. These laws facilitate destruction of unions. The concerted action of a labor union is a tool that workers use to win fair wages, benefits and conditions from the powerful, from the likes of massive multi-national corporations. At a time of dwindling union membership, at a time when labor union participation is so small as to be nearly negligible, state legislatures across the country are taking up right-to-work (for less) laws that will further decimate union ranks. They’re kicking the underdog when it’s down.

Americans love an underdog. Maybe it’s an artifact of the American Revolution, when a rag-tag rabble of farmers and frontiersmen defeated the disciplined and well-provisioned military of the most powerful nation on earth.

Even though the United States has usurped most powerful status, Americans still ally with Davids in contests with Goliaths. They love to see a top dog taken down a notch. They rooted for the perennial loser Red Sox in the 2004 World Series and reveled in the win by America’s unseasoned ice hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

That’s why the sudden surge of right-to-work (for less) legislation is so confounding. Right-to-work (for less) laws are perks for the wealthy, for the top dogs. These laws facilitate destruction of unions. The concerted action of a labor union is a tool that workers use to win fair wages, benefits and conditions from the powerful, from the likes of massive multi-national corporations. At a time of dwindling union membership, at a time when labor union participation is so small as to be nearly negligible, state legislatures across the country are taking up right-to-work (for less) laws that will further decimate union ranks. They’re kicking the underdog when it’s down.

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How to Throw a Worker-Friendly Super Bowl Party

Main Street Blog/Working America

Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us, and the New England Patriots and the New York Giants are preparing to battle it out for dominance. But there’s an extra wrinkle in this year’s Super Bowl. Just days ago, down the street from Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis where the game will be held, Governor Mitch Daniels signed a union-busting “right to work” bill into law. In the other 22 states where these laws are on the books, wages for all workers have gone down, workplaces have become less safe, and the power of unions to advocate for their members has dissipated.

For you at home, there’s somewhat of a dilemma. You want to enjoy the experience of Super Bowl Sunday: the gathering of friends and family, the commercials, the rush of the game, and of course, the food. On the other hand, you don’t want to be just another cog in the enormous corporate machine, the “miasma of Madison Avenue-produced militarism,” the forces that have turned an annual sporting event into a full-on marketing assault on the American public; forces that are tied philosophically and financially to the political war on workers.

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New ad: ‘What’ Exposes Indiana Gov. Daniels on ‘Right to Work’

Working families in Indiana have launched a new television entitled ‘What,’ that features Governor Daniels in his own words opposing Right to Work for Less. In his speech to the Teamsters in 2006 Daniels opposed any changes to Indiana’s labor laws and said, “…certainly not a Right to Work law.”

The ad will run following Governor Daniels’ response to the State of the Union on broadcast networks in Indiana and nationally on CNN and MSNBC.

Indiana Senate Passes RTW Despite Broad Public Opposition

by Cathy Sherwin

 Despite overwhelming opposition throughout Indiana to the so-called right to work (RTW) bill, the state Senate yesterday passed its version of the bill by 28-22, while House Speaker Brian Bosma continued to use strong-arm tactics to force RTW down Hoosiers’ throats. The Senate chose to vote even as 10,000 Hoosier workers packed the statehouse—and even though working families have been holding town hall meetings, making thousands of phone calls and signing postcards.

Throughout the day, Democratic amendments to the House version of RTW (House Bill 1001) were rejected on party lines. Even the hugely popular amendment calling for a public referendum that would allow voters to decide on RTW went down to defeat. Then Bosma shut down the discussion on amendments, cutting off further debate. In protest, House Democrats left the chamber and went to caucus.

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Wages and benefits for union and nonunion workers lower in right-to-work states

Wages for both union and nonunion workers are lower in states with right-to-work (RTW) laws than in those without, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Briefing Paper finds. EPI economists Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz control for demographic and socioeconomic variables in The Compensation Penalty of “Right-to-Work Laws” and find that wages are 3.2% lower in RTW states than in non-RTW states.

The provision of both employer-sponsored health insurance and employer-sponsored pensions is also lower in RTW states. Full findings of the report are as follows:

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