The Question That Finally Is Asked

Finally someone (cough*cough*HIPPIE AT NPR*cough*cough) asks the question that no one has bothered to address during this whole Michigan right-to-work debacle. Which is, why does anyone think there’s a connection between “right-to-work” and employment? Why would anyone think that, when all you have to do is look at the unemployment figures from RTW states? Via ThinkProgress:

Pressed by Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to explain what proof Snyder had that Michigan would see a job boom as a result of the law, the Governor cited neighboring Indiana’s recent job numbers as his only evidence:

SNYDER: This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan. If you look at Indiana, they did similar legislation in February. And literally, thousands of new jobs are coming to Indiana where this was a major consideration in companies’ decision to move to that state.

HOBSON: Are you saying then that companies decided to go to Indiana, for example, because there’s less union membership in Indiana?

SNYDER: No, and I don’t want to speak for the companies but it is very clear that companies are looking at Indiana that previously did not.

[...]

HOBSON: Well, make that connection though. You’re saying that, by not requiring workers to pay union dues, that therefore companies are going to be more attracted to the state. Why would that be?

SNYDER: Well, that’s a question for the companies but there is a strong sense, and companies do look at that. That’s something we’ve suffered here.

[...]

HOBSON: Union membership has fallen dramatically in Michigan and across the country and it’s not as though that has translated into some boom in employment. I see the point you’re making, but it hasn’t been borne out in the evidence, has it?

SNYDER: Well, it’s been borne out in the Indiana case.

Tennessee has been a right-to-work state since forever, and our unemployment rate has consistently been higher than the national average. In October, we saw a modest decrease to 8.2%, but that was still higher than the national average of 7.9%. Furthermore, many Tennessee counties are still struggling with unemployment at a rate well over 10%.

I don’t understand why, during the whole debate about Michigan ramming right-to-work down peoples’ throats, no one ever asked how RTW is supposed to fix unemployment, and if it indeed does so in states that have these laws. I keep hearing beltway pundits yammer on about stuff like Nissan and VW plants in Tennessee, but there’s just this grand assumption that right-to-work is the #1 reason. You know what else we’ve got? Really, super cheap energy (thank you, big, bad, quasi-government TVA), a moderate climate, and most important, a central location within a day’s drive of 75% of the U.S. From a transportation/get your products to market point of view, that is huge.

[UPDATE]:

Curious. Right to work for thee but not for me?

ALTO, MI – Michigan House Democrats are calling an assistant majority floor leader a hypocrite for proposing an amendment that would have exempted her husband from right-to-work bills that lawmakers passed, and Gov. Snyder then signed into law.

State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, was among right-to-work supporters quoted in The New York Times on Tuesday, Dec. 11, saying “this is the day that Michigan freed its workers.” But she also proposed to add corrections officers to the list of public employees – including police and fire – not covered by the right-to-work law.

The amendment was gaveled down and did not come up for a vote.

If right to work is so awesome, how come the GOP always want to exempt police and firefighters? And how come this Republiweasel tried to exempt her husband?

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6 Comments

Filed under employment, unions

6 responses to “The Question That Finally Is Asked

  1. Michigan is supposed to be the bastion of unionism . This is tragic. It’s so depressing that people don’t see Republican policies for what they are…. anti poor, anti middleclass, anti workers, anti everything….. it’s unbelievable.

  2. deep

    Something I’m still confused about (and bear with me Beale, these liberal thoughts are still somewhat foreign to me, but I’m trying to learn) is what is RTW such a problem? I understand the basic premise of unions and that generally with a union you have better potential for fair pay than otherwise, but why require all workers to pay for it? What if the union is doing a poor job? What if the workers feel disenfranchised in the union? If they have no choice but to pay the union is seems like it’s just the pigs operating the farm on two feet. Seems to me that if a union can’t convince a majority of the workforce to vote for them then they shouldn’t be entitled to payment from the entire workforce.

    But maybe I’m just applying a capitalistic market driven approach to this and they just don’t work that way?

    • deep

      I should clarify too, that I used to be a union organizer in my college years and became rather jaded by the process. Many workers didn’t trust me because I was an outsider to their communities. (e.g. generally I was the skinny white guy from a middle-class New England town canvasing houses in poor black Arkansas and Missouri).

      I felt like such a phony trying to convince people to unionize (and therefore ask for their money) when I really had no no idea about their life, their work or their community.

    • All workers need to pay for it because all workers get the benefits. Otherwise those who don’t are freeloading off the hard work and efforts of those of who negotiated the benefits for everyone.

      Unions are democratic; they’re organizations of workers. If the union is doing a poor job representing workers, then they can elect new officers. There is local leadership as well as national.

      It’s not as simple as, “let’s just get people to join the union.” That’s why Republicans are always so staunchly against card-check. There are tremendous obstacles to unioninazation, chief among them being an employer than has doesn’t have to recognize a union regardless of whether 100% of the employees vote for it; they can tie that stuff up in all sorts of legal tape for years (EFCA would have addressed some of these issues but GOP killed it).

    • Min

      “Right to work” means the right to work for less money, fewer benefits, and more dangerous working conditions, because all the power is vested in the employer. Unfortunately, employers are able to bullsh*t employees into believing that Right to Work celebrates choice, when what it really does is strengthen the employer’s ability to exploit the worker.

  3. democommie

    When you can belong to the union without paying any dues, then cheapskate shitheels will do so. When enough of the union membership stops paying dues then the strike fund, employee retirement benefits and the like all go buh-bye. At that point you have unions that can’t do much for their retirees and have no staying power for protracted strikes and the like.

    Snyder is a a scumbag. For two years he had no interest in signing a bill of this type, but when it hit his desk it was like he’d been waiting for it his whole life. Less than 24 hours from the time the bill was proposed until it was passed, yeah, no politics there.

    Of course one of the biggest problems that unions have is corruption. Another one is that there are shitloads of racist, anit-woman and anti-gay assholes in some of them. That does not help the cause, especially when many of them vote for GOP candidates because they wanna screw those groups and the welfare moochers. It’s all quite sad.