The 2 problems with “Right-to-Work” laws

Not paying union dues?
Better than the mythical free lunch, right?

According to Ron Klain, writing at, the tempting-sounding so-called “Right-to-Work Laws Won’t Bring Back Manufacturing.” Why? As Klain, a senior executive with a private investment firm, explains, “There are two problems with right-to-work laws as simple solutions for our manufacturing woes: They aren’t right and they don’t work.”

Don't buy Right-to-Work; it's a lie!Regardless of how you feel about unions, the unfairness of this legislation should offend you.

Klain uses a different metaphor than our favorite “Right to Work Out” explanation, but regardless of whether you think such legislation is aimed at undermining either unions or the desire of anyone to pay their fair share, the bottom line is that no business could survive by being asked to provide its services (or goods) at no charge to anybody who chooses not to pay. And that sound-bite about forcing people to join a union? Pure fabrication. Nobody in the U.S. is forced to join a union, although unions already represent non-members as required by law.

Meanwhile, the actual data contradicts the talking points that accompany this push.

For example, in Minnesota, where the state GOP is considering a ballot initiative to add a “Right-to-Work” amendment to the state’s Constitution. You might assume Minnesotans are earning less, since more Minnesotans are employed than in the states where such laws have passed,. After all, the spin suggests lower average wages will cause higher employment rates. But Minnesotans are actually earning substantially more than people in states theoretically “protected” by these mis-labeled “right to work” rules — and yet those states have higher umployment.

There’s a serious gap between the theory and what happens in the real world: Median MN personal income is over $5,000 greater per year than in states experimenting with the “Right to Work” theories. Those Minnesotans have more income to spend on non-essentials, so the result is hiring to meet their demand.

This has been going for 50 years!

As any venture capitalist can tell you, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The “Right-to-Work” theories are brought to us by the same people who apparently wanted to let the U.S. automotive industry implode in bankruptcies, (not exactly a job creating strategy.)

Business experts with theories focused on short-term, bottom-line profits look great when the CEO wants to justify increasing his bonus, but won’t encourage him hire more workers. Sure, labor costs are a very real factor in the success of any business. But we’re not looking for a return to the pre-union sweatshop model for American industry – are we?

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’  It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.  Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…

Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
speaking about so-called Right-to-Work laws — in 1961

Middle-class workers earning fair wages and benefits with secure employment are the historically proven job-creators. Demand drives hiring, and when millions of middle-class, hard-working Americans are spending, history shows us the U.S. economy can run white hot.
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About local49

IUOE Local 49 was formed in 1927. Today we are more than 13,000 men and women in Minnesota, North and South Dakota with contracts for highway/heavy and building contractors, well drillers, equipment repair shops, welding shops, sand and gravel suppliers, counties, municipalities, hospitals, school districts, cemeteries, and more.

Posted on February 8, 2012, in benefits, Jobs, MN politics, union and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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