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While labor won big in the 2012 elections, for example defeating Prop. 32 in California,  we did not win everywhere.  Labor did not win in Michigan.  Republican legislators in Michigan on Thursday passed so called Right-To-Work  legislation  for private sector work by six votes in the Senate and the House.  The governor has indicated he will sign the bill.  A following bill restricting public sector workers is following close behind in the lame duck session.
From: Kitchen table economics:  From Democratic Left.  Winter 2012.What is Right To Work?  What motivates and who funds  these state campaigns against organized labor?  Answer:
In states that have adopted so called Right To Work, annual wages and benefits are about $1,500 lower than for comparable workers in non-RTW states—for both union and nonunion workers.  And the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job are also lower. (1)
Right to work (RTW)  is a misleading slogan.  It does not guarantee anyone a job, that is a right to work.   Rather, it makes it illegal for unions to require that each worker who benefits from a union contract pays his or her  fair share of the costs of administering that contract.

“Right to Work” is a propaganda title that unfortunately the corporate owned  has successfully branded and the media repeats day by day.  We should avoid repeating the phrase.  Instead we should call it what it is, an assault on unions.
For an excellent description of the anti labor campaign in Michigan this week see Roland Zullo,  Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations ,University of Michigan

The right to negotiate for a fair wage and decent working conditions should be available to all workers.  Republican politicians  are trying to take this basic right away in several states.  The way to fix the economy isn’t to lay off workers, slash their salaries and benefits, and retirement plans of people who have been paying into retirement for over thirty years.  But, that is what politicians in  Wisconsin, Indiana, New Hampshire and other states are doing as they pass  so called “Right to Work” legislation in their states.
It is time to restore some balance between management and working people, starting with making certain that everyone has a voice and a seat at the table.
By making it harder for workers’ organizations to have staff and to  sustain themselves financially, RTW laws  undermine unions’ bargaining strength and workers political participation.
Twenty-two states—predominantly in the South —already have  right-to-work laws, mostly dating from the McCarthy era.   Since the Republican sweep of state legislatures in 2010, a coalition of corporate lobbies, right wing anti-worker politicians and  extremists including Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers have sponsored RTW  legislation and similar attacks on unions in dozens of states.  When they can’t win the entire case they often introduce  other “paycheck deception bills” to limit unions participation in elections.
The great American middle class did not just happen.  It was built, brick by brick.  It was built by the hard work of our parents and grandparents and the unions which represented them, which created the 40 hour work weak, paid vacations, and wages that were once the envy of the world.  We should be reining in the big banks and corporations that wrecked our economy, not going after working people and their unions, whether they work on a farm, in a factory, or in a classroom or library.  
But in this economy workers and unions are under siege.  In many states we are  fighting the greatest class warfare in over 100 years.  And, we can expect little help from  the Republicans in the  political system that has aided the looting of the country. An essential step is for all of us to support  unions and working people in defeating these anti worker bills.

1. The Economic Policy Institute. 1. The Economic Policy Institute 2011

Originally posted to dcampbell on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  right to work laws are like drunk driving laws (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazzcon, fisheye

    everybody knows a drunk driving law is supposed to prevent it, not encourage it

  •  It sucks but (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fisheye, Anorish, ybruti, RUNDOWN, fabucat, kurious

    That's the price people pay for not taking the time to vote in 2010. It was a very damaging election for us and may take years to regain our footing. We can't let it happen in 2014.

  •  What are the prospects for Michigan (0+ / 0-)

    turning Democratic in 2014? And why is there such a rush to pass all this stuff now (in a lame-duck session--which suggests the state legislature may be different next year)?

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:46:29 PM PST

    •  Republican state House majority less (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maybeeso in michigan

      Republicans lost seats in the state House this year and probably wouldn't have had the votes to pass this in the new legislative session in January.

      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

      by Linnaeus on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:09:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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

      Their sweep of statewide offices in 2010 allowed them to effectively gerrymander the state, to the point that while more voters voted Democratic, Republicans barely lost any seats in the state house, and retain a supermajority in the state senate. US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) won re-election by 21 points.

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:25:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just like Ohio (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper, dkmich

        The GOP took control of the statehouse & governors mansion, then gerrymandered the districts to assure permanent GOP control.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:07:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  All these missed opportunities make me sad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RUNDOWN, happymisanthropy

    2 recall efforts and even had collective bargaining amendment in election but so much apathy and low information voters in michigan allows republicans to do as they please statewide.  

    weird how that is so different on the national scale though.

  •  Andrew Leonard at Salon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is from an article looking at why Apple and other companies  bringing some manufacturing back to America is not quite the good news we'd like to think.

    Whether you are fervently pro-union or believe organized labor is a parasitical force leeching the lifeblood out of the economy, it’s awfully strange to use the formulation “American unions are changing their priorities” to describe what’s happened to the relationship between labor and capital in the U.S. in the last quarter-century. Friends and foes of unions can all agree: Organized labor got its ass handed to it on a platter by capital. “Priorities” changed because there was no other choice, like your priorities change when you see a locomotive headed directly toward you. Globalization was the locomotive, and the American worker was tied to the tracks.

    So, another more cynical way to look at why insourcing is suddenly all the rage starts from the understanding  that American corporations embraced offshoring as one tactic (of many) to weaken the negotiating power of unions. And it worked! Mission accomplished! Now that the power of organized labor has been broken, they can safely return home.

    This might be an oversimplification of a complex, multi-factored process, but one does have to wonder how great insourcing will end up for American workers, when the average wage of these new jobs is significantly lower than it was for comparable jobs 20 or 30 years ago.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:14:29 AM PST

  •  UNfortunately, This is Blowback (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    from the negotiations to "save the auto industry" in which the UAW was required to take a big hit. Once you start giving up ground, the wealthy class continues to push until they get what they really want.

    Keep in mind while these negotiations were going on, GM was planning to spend Billions in China to build car factories to make Buicks and Cadillacs.

    The notion GM was "about to go out of business" is total nonsense.

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:02:42 AM PST

  •  We have to regroup (4+ / 0-)

    Losing a battle is not the end of the war. We have to resist the impulse to give up, lie down, surrender.

    We need to start making the case, LOUDLY and clearly, that unions are the road to prosperity for workers, all workers.

    Unions give us leverage to use against the rich and powerful.

    Unions benefit everyone, not just the membership.

    And if you go to work for a unionized company during the time when this state is unfortunately in the Right-to-Work column, it is to your benefit to pay the union dues, because if the union is weakened to the point where it has to decertify YOU WILL NEVER SEE ANOTHER RAISE and your benefits will exit with the union.

    We lost in the Legislature, but we can still win hearts and minds. And we can work to see that the instigators of this travesty are short-timers in the Legislature.

    Jase Bolger needs to go. We need a strong Democrat to run against him, and we need to shout loud and long about his shenanigans with election procedures and his leadership in destroying the right of workers to a fair wage and fair treatment.

    I'm not from western Michigan, so I don't know who looks good to go up against Bolger the next time he runs. But we need to start work on finding and promoting his challenger NOW.


    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:55:15 PM PST

    •  Nationalize the debate stop fighting piecemeal. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf, Sarenth

      Winning hearts and minds happens when there's a broad understanding of the principles behind what you're trying to accomplish. When the whole culture is moving in that direction you have a better chance of succeeding.

      Unions didn't get the clout they had overnight. It built up over time, and was the result of a massive movement by labor to corral new immigrants at the turn of the 1900's for the purposes of organizing. It was a global mass effort with different outcomes in different countries.

      In America, we won a curious balancing act. Particularly because of the way industrialization occurred and partly because of labor shortages after both world wars, labor was eventually able to gain the upper hand.

      One of the biggest impacts on the value of labor occurred in the late '70s and early '80s with the rise of the two wage earner family. With two incomes, families could now afford what, in a one-income family economy, was beyond their reach. They now didn't need their employer to provide many of the benefits that were assumed to be part of employment, and so eventually the market stopped providing them.

      The destruction of PATCO by Reagan didn't help. And that was followed by "globalization." Manufacturing was hit hardest, and because real wages were diminishing, Americans couldn't afford not to purchase the very products that were depressing their wages.

      An economic death spiral.

      But by now, the market has absorbed the impact of the two wage earner family and globalization. China is not the panacea it once was as their own economy has absorbed the great influx of wealth there.

      China is in trouble. China does NOT have a middle class, and does not have an economy built to CONSUME its own products, but only EXPORT them. That is not an economically healthy situation. Furthermore, China's rabble rousing on the territory of the South China Sea is a very real and immediate danger. A trip to East Asia feels perilously similar to Europe in the 1930's. China would not be historically out of line to use its massive influx of wealth for territorial gain, and that rarely, if ever, ends well. World War III, anyone?

      That would put labor in the same footing as it was in the post World War II era, but none of it is very pretty.

      What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

      by equern on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:36:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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