What is right to work? At it's very core, it basically allows for a person to work at a place without being forced to join the union, which is standard practice at many mills, including my own place of work. There are other aspects, which will be covered, but that is the meat and potatoes of the legislation.
I, for one, am all for Indiana becoming a right to work state. No, I'm not "anti-union", as I've covered on at least a dozen other posts, but I am skeptical of anybody who tells me that they have my best interests at mind, and yes, this includes the union. The biggest reason that the union bosses (my own unions VP had his picture in the newspaper, hooping and hollering along with the rest of the union members there, making me oh so proud) are against this legislation is simple; it's all about the almighty dollar. Less people deciding to join the union makes for less union dues which, in turn, makes for less dollars for those in charge. Those in charge would love to tell you all day that this would bankrupt the union and that those dollars are needed for everyday funding, but my response would be that maybe they could save some money by not flying down to Mexico to try to unionize people that aren't even American citizens, let alone union members who live and work in Northwest Indiana. Just saying.
The statistics on job growth and income ratio's for right to work states tell it all.
» Twenty-two states and Guam are currently governed by Right to Work statutes.
» If Indiana had adopted Right to Work in 1977, per-capita income would have been $2,925 higher — or $11,700 higher for a family of four — by 2008. (1)
» Projecting the same growth rate in the next 10 years after adjusting for inflation, passage of a Right to Work law in 2011 would raise per capita income by $968, or $3,872 for a family of four, by 2021. (1)
» The primary goal of any Right to Work law is to safeguard employee rights by ensuring that no worker is forced to join or pay tribute to a union against his or her will. But it's nice to know that Right to Work states also enjoy faster growth and higher real purchasing power than their forced unionism counterparts.
Here's an excerpt from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research's latest fact sheet on the issue:
Percentage Growth in Real Personal Income (1999-2009)
§ Right to Work States: 28.3 percent
§ Forced-Unionism States: 14.7 percent
§ National Average: 19.5 percent
Cost of Living-Adjusted Per Capita Disposable Personal Income (2009)
§ Right to Work States: $35,543
§ Forced-Unionism States: $33,389
§ National Average: $34,256 (2)
» As of 2008, according to economists Barry Hirsch and David Macpherson, 8.4 percent of private-sector employees nationwide were under "exclusive" union representation. But in 15 states — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin — 10.0 percent or more of private-sector workers were unionized.
» In 2008, cost of living-adjusted average weekly earnings in the states with 10.0 percent or more of private-sector employees subject to union monopoly bargaining were $770. That’s $48 less than the average in the states with private-sector unionization of 5.0 percent or less. (These low-union density states are: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.)
That comes to a roughly $2500-a-year disadvantage for full-time workers in states with high monopoly-bargaining density.
» Aggregate cost of living-adjusted weekly earnings for states with private-sector union density of 5.1 percent to 9.9 percent were $783, or, for full-time workers, nearly $700 a year more than in the highest-union-density states, but more than $1,800 a year less than in the lowest-union-density states. (3)
(1) Dr. Richard Vedder, Ohio University, Feb. 1, 2011
(2) Will Collins, National Institute for Labor Relations Research, Nov. 15, 2010
(3) NILRR, Aug. 28, 2009
Of course, this doesn't matter much to those that have a vested interest in keeping states like Wisconsin (where the yellow belly's that call themselves elected officials have decided to cut and run to avoid moving forward; you know, it's times like these I think of the bull crap that Republicans had to endure with the ramming of health care legislation down our throats from DC and I remind myself of the dignity and respect that we had, for the most part, compared to those that would just up and run like weasels) and Indiana away from the successful right to work formula and retained in the union boss's grips.
I actually first heard about the formation of these recent rallies about a month ago. I was able to get my hands on the talking points list handed out to those that are attending, and I read it in disbelief. Let's start by outlining how this paper is worded. The very first sentence tells it all: Dangerous, anti-middle class legislation is at our doorstep. Really?! Another excerpt, from the center of the pamphlet: Who are "they"? The right wing, the rich, the powerful, the same companies and people who have tried to take our jobs overseas and turn us into a service-sector economy (sorry, had to jump in here to mention that Clinton DID sign NAFTA, and the biggest reason we are turning INTO a service-sector economy is for two reasons. One, that companies are being waged out of business by rising legacy costs and retirement/wage deals struck, and two, more and more kids are going to college, and those that aren't don't have the balls to work in a mill, they'd rather work at McDonald's) where a few get very rich and everyone else is left to fight for the scraps. This is, of course, rhetoric meant to rile up the base (which, by reading through, they apparently think their base is stupid).
The pamphlet continues on to note the "myths" and "facts" of right to work legislation. I'd write it all out word for word, but it would take forever, so I'll paraphrase much of it. The pamphlet refutes the claim that workers can be forced to join the union, noting that one can become a "Beck Objector". By becoming a "Beck Objector", you choose not to become a member of the union, meaning you have no membership right what so ever. Ok, I thought, let's take a look at how this would work. The pamphlet seems to make a valid point. However, this is where right to work would still become necessary. After review, I found some instances of people that had tried that method, and ended up getting the screw. Almost all places of business have at least a thirty day review process where the union decides whether or not they are to be admitted. It's actually pretty simple; they vote no, the company fires them. Sure, the company doesn't HAVE to fire them, but it keeps a balance and keeps work flow from slowing down (which, if we're talking about loop holes here, is a sure fire way for the unions to get what they want. While it's technically against contract to do so, it's hard to actually PROVE that a slow down in work is happening).
The pamphlet continues, claiming the most backwards economics I've ever read in my life. Supposedly, and I quote, a right to work law will "create a climate in which businesses will increase profits because of lower wages (which is wrong, right to work does not lower wages, in fact it creates more opportunity for good workers to have increased wages, but I digress) but that's not good for the state or it's workers. When wages fall, state revenues from income tax and sales tax fall as well." Yeah, ok, so let's ignore the fact that right to work states don't lower wages, but actually increase them, as noted earlier in this article. Also, let's ignore the fact that increase profits in businesses is never bad, because it means increases in job growth. So, what they are telling me,is that while they are downstate protesting cuts in unemployment (which has been cited in the local paper) they are also protesting increase in business profits are, there fore, increases in jobs, which would help to negate the need for decreases in unemployment, because unemployment would begin to go down, which would mean the state wouldn't have to cut things nearly as much as they currently are doing. That, to me, makes no sense at all.
One of the last points on the pamphlet states that no union dues are used for political activities, that members have to elect to allow their dues to be used. Sure, this might mean that my dollar doesn't go directly towards, say, President Obama's re-election campaign, but it was used to make that pamphlet, wasn't it? It was used to send people down to Indy in a bus, wasn't it? Don't tell me that my dues don't help out with politics that I don't agree with, because just me reading this load of garbage on a pamphlet not suitable to wipe my ass with is enough to make me want every dollar I've had to give to them back in my wallet, with interest.
There is one area that I have to agree with the unions. Part of the legislation states that those that choose to opt out of the union would still be afforded union protection; that needs to go. Right to work is all about fairness and choice for the workers, and it isn't fair for those that pay their monetary dues if a person that doesn't pay is afforded those that exact same protection. It would be like forcing all lawyers to represent clients, even if they can't pay. It's not right. But, even if that isn't taken out of the bill, I still have my support behind it, because realistically, just because a union official is forced to represent a person doesn't guarantee that that representation will be worth a damn. Heck, that already happens, so it wouldn't be a leap from normality.
All in all, right to work legislation is a winner, and I think that once it passes and the dust settles, and the actual union workers are looking around, realizing that they still have their jobs and haven't had their pay reduced, that it will be highly beneficial to this state and will reap rewards both for the workers AND the business owners.
WRITERS EDIT:This aspect of right to work is written from the private sector point of view only. I hadn't realized until later on that I had not clarified that, and I apologize. This does not take into account other aspects of pending legislation, particularly dealing with possible education reforms. The main reason for that is simple; I don't write about what I'm not sure of, and I have yet to form a concrete opinion on the educational reforms proposed. Also, as a couple of emails have noted, though my use of the word "retarded" was of a literal sense, the word has connotations associated with it that may offend and take away from the piece itself. I have since changed that wording, and apologize if you were offended; no offense or ridicule was meant from the use of that word. Thank you.