Michigan and Wisconsin have made the correct decision to protect the worker’s right to employment without being obligated to pay union dues.
Twenty-four states now have right to work laws.
These states prohibit any employer or union from requiring employees to pay dues or fees to a union for the purpose of avoiding termination from their employment. It means that an employee may have to accept the negotiation of the union representing the group for which the employee works, but they cannot be forced to pay money to support the union.
It is now the case that only 7% of private workers are unionized. The vast majority of union workers are in the public sector. The reason that there are few unionized workers in the private sector is that companies have understood the importance of being fair and equitable to their employees. It is in their own self-interest to do so, since a worker feeling fair treatment from their employer will be more productive.
State government workers who are unionized seem to think they are owed the position they are in without any curtailment to salary or benefits, even though the taxpayers who have suffered reduced income and benefits in the private sector can no longer afford the taxes that keep state employees at their elevated status.
That is why Michigan and Wisconsin realized the need to reduce the power of the state employee unions which are singularly concerned about money and power, with very little interest in efficiency and performance.
Now, these states and the 22 others with Right-To-Work laws can renegotiate with their state employees on a realistic basis of being fair to all parties, given the stress in the economies of these and other states.
Productivity and job growth are enhanced by right-to-work laws. They have demonstrated that they are job creators. Any investigation of unemployment rates in right-to-work states will demonstrate that they are lower than those rates in union states. Specifically, data will tell us that between the years 2002-2010, the average increase in payroll in right-to-work states increased by 3%; in non-right-to-work states, there was an average payroll loss of 3%.
What about worker income in right-to-work states? Workers in right-to-work states have higher real income (after taxes and inflation) and faster growing incomes than in non-right-to-work states. In fact, the US Census of 2010 reflects the fact that the disposable incomes in most right-to-work states was higher that year than in the state of Michigan, which was a union state historically and only changed that policy this year by legislation.
Union officials will use raw thuggery to oppose the right-to-work without joining a union or paying union dues. When right-to-work is policy in a state, it dramatically reduces the power and influence of union thugs and officials.
A good example was Jimmy Hoffa, son of the late and infamous union boss. Jimmy Hoffa responded to the Michigan decision to become a right-to-work state by saying they would regret it and that this will be “civil war.” That does not sound like the way a representative democracy operates. In fact, that kind of brute verbal thuggery and control is common in the way union bosses control their unions.
It is also why union thugs want “card check.” This proposal gives them the freedom to take a union vote at a non-union shop and stand over the employee while he votes. I always thought our vote was a protected private act. I guess not when it comes to the union bosses.
Two good examples of right-to-work states are North Dakota and Texas. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and is thriving. Business publications have said for several years that Texas will lead us out of our economic downturn. Why? Because it is a right-to-work state and workers are committed to working and are happy to do so without union control or restraint.
Fundamentally, unions were created in this country for good reason. Workers were exploited in the late 19th and early 20th century. The” sweat shop” syndrome was patently abusive of workers. Child labor laws were passed because children were being exploited when they worked. Working conditions were often deplorable and we know of cases where garment workers died in buildings that burned to the ground while the employees were unable to get out of the burning building.
Those conditions are not the issue now as they were then. Unions continued to grow in power and control through vast financial resources they built by coercing workers to pay union dues.
Our free market place will clearly have workers demanding unions once again, should the conditions warrant that change. The vast majority do not want unions now for understandable reasons. And, businesses realize that fair and equitable treatment of employees keeps unions out and worker productivity at a higher level in quality and quantity.
The essence of freedom is choice; the essence of tyranny is coercion. Right-To-Work states offer freedom; union states offer tyranny. That is why people flock to right-to-work states. The American people still love freedom.