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RTW — Closing the Barn Door, After the Horse has Already Gotten Away

The Michigan State Legislature enacted two laws turning Michigan into a Right To Work state; but, it’s too late to make a difference.

The action of the Michigan State Legislature and the signing by Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan’s Right To Work laws comes a day late and dollar short, or maybe two decades late.

Indiana was the first of the “Rust Belt” states to pass RTW, but it has been less than a glowing success. In the first place, Indiana’s RTW laws haven’t been in force long enough to accurately judge if they have made any difference at all to attract businesses to the state. So far it has done nothing. According to business leaders, the RTW doesn’t receive much consideration relative to capital investment decisions. However, what do count highly are financial incentive packages. Michigan’s claim that they needed to have RTW in order to compete with Indiana seems to be fallacious at best.

If one takes a serious look at the effectiveness of RTW, it seems that the effectiveness has been declining over the past two decades and has begun a steeper decline after the passage of NAFTA and Favored Nation Status for China. During the 1970s and 1980s the move to RTW states reached a peak, but when the greatest labor savings could be achieved by moving production to Mexico or China, it became the first choice for business.

What RTW does is provide downward pressure on wages and benefits for all workers. In comparison, non-RTW states wages are 3.2% higher than RTW states, RTW states are less likely to have employer paid healthcare plans, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the incidence of worker related injuries and deaths is 52% higher in RTW states. The lower wages and benefits are a direct attack on the middle class wage earner and families. In general, the RTW states have a less educated workforce and subsequently lower employable skill levels.

Since enacting RTW doesn’t improve a state’s ability to attract business and forces a decline in wages and ultimately the tax base; what are the advantages to becoming a RTW state? The advantages are purely political; it cuts the political power of the unions. This is the real goal of those state legislators and governors who advocate RTW laws. RTW cuts the money going to unions and money is translated into political power. Conservatives see this as a means to gain and remain in power. In Michigan, RTW was a huge symbolic win for the Republicans, which will lose legislative majorities next year, by bringing RTW to the traditionally most heavily unionized state in America, home of the UAW.

Most large businesses support RTW because the cutting of the union power makes it easier in the collective bargaining process. Divided and unstable work forces cannot press as hard to achieve labor demands.

The “Open Shop” is an inheritantly unjust arrangement. When workers are given a choice whether to join the union or not, those that choose not to, receive all the benefits essentially for free. Also, if the union in its performance of duties decides that a work action is in order, the non-union members are under no obligation to comply and sabotage the effectiveness of such actions. This weakens the overall ability of union effectiveness. Supporters of RTW claim that no one should have to pay to work; but if that is the case, then they should be willing to amend the labor laws that non-union members should have to negotiate independently for wages, benefits and work place conditions rather than ride on the coattails of the unions.

During Indiana’s fight over RTW, the Executive Director of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce was asked if they expect unions to represent non-members, does the Chamber of Commerce provide benefits for their non-members. His answer was absolutely not; if they did, how would the Chamber stay in business. He was essentially saying, “Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free”? This is the situation faced by union shops in RTW states.

Although Governor Walker has said that he will not push for Wisconsin to become Right To Work during this next legislative session, he has also remained silent as to whether or not he would sign it or exercise his veto. With the continuing slow economic growth, the Republican legislature needs to leave this wish lying on the side of road and concentrate on creating jobs in the state. RTW time has passed.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lyle Ruble December 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
@Young Conservative....Your assumptions are incorrect. I retired in my late fifties after decades of successful businesses.
Steve ® December 15, 2012 at 12:14 AM
You made that by making others poor. Are you like young to the conservative ideas or just been working since you were 1 yo?
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Part of the concept of a Union Workforce isn't bad. Take for instance The Carpenters, or most of the trades in general. These are blue collar skilled jobs. The Union served as a pool of talent that was hired out to companies on a temporary basis to perform the required tasks. When the job was completed, the company released the workers back to the Union and the workers could go to another job. Companies contracted with the Union for this talent - and also supported the training of the workers. Workers were to be trained in a set program, and paid according to level of skill. It's actually a wonderful concept. Skilled and properly trained union workers make a very good wage - as they should. However the unions have been corrupted by nepotism, unwarranted advancement, and a place for friends and relatives to get high paying jobs and be forced upon companies. That has destroyed the unions. The problems with the dysfunctional unions led to competition - from non-union sources that pay less and hence project costs are lower. ABC is their growing competition: " Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national association that advances and defends the principles of the merit shop in the construction industry and provides its members with an opportunity to succeed" http://www.abc.org/ Continued
Lyle Ruble December 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
@Young Conservative...You suffer from a common disease of the Nouveau Riche, crassness and a lack of real class.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Government union employees are nothing like the original building trade unions. They are a group of government employees who engage in political activities to elect the people that promise them the most. Government employee unions are NOT slavery - they are the En-Slavers. They hold communities and taxpayers hostage to their every demand - and need to be done away with and outlawed.
Steve ® December 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Source I quoted says that came from the BLS. They are wages, period. It is not right to make someone pay into a union, especially when they have become a wing of the Democratic Party. The games and unfair practices the unions have played for years is coming to an end. Working in the Chicago area taught me how filthy they all are. RTW will force them to compete in the free market place. If they offer a product the worker wants, they will survive. Simple as that.
Lyle Ruble December 15, 2012 at 12:23 AM
@ c...In many nations the professionals are unionized. However, most of those you mention must be licensed professionals. Are you going to employ an unlicensed architect to design your home? Physicians and other professionals have organizations that monitor standards and exert regulatory power. In the case of the skilled trades, I certainly don't want an inexperienced electrician working on my home's wiring. Unions have proven to be the best vehicle for training competent skilled tradespeople.
Lyle Ruble December 15, 2012 at 12:24 AM
@Bob McBride...Do you think this is a good enough topic to get the 'Friday Night Fights' going?
Bob McBride December 15, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I don't see the trades abandoning their unions, not only for the reasons you state, but because the work they do is location specific for the most part. There are still plenty of unions in the private sector that serve no practical purposes beyond self-preservation. In my line of work, for instance, there are both union and non-union shops. The union shops tend to be at a greater disadvantage when it comes to meeting the needs of today's customers, because union regulations regarding the kinds of employees and employer may bring in to do ancillary work make these companies non-competitive with local and out of state, non-union competitors. These unions have an effective stranglehold on some of these businesses. In the last shop in which in worked, had the company attempted to even shut down the plant, it would have been subjected to a multi-million dollar forfeiture to the union that their employees belonged to in order to cover their removal from some union sponsored insurance program. The union itself served no particular purpose, as the skill set necessary to operate the current generation of manufacturing equipment was minimal. Where unions have a natural foothold, RTW will probably not effect their ability to survive. Where they are an impediment to the successful operation of a business and, by rights, serve no practical purpose, they most likely won't. Which is as it should be. We have to face facts. Lower wages are better than no wages.
Greg December 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
RTW is long overdue. 11.8% of the American workforce is unionized and at least 1/2 of them don't want to be. RTW only makes union membership a choice, any organization that forces you to be a member is un-American. Unions lost their purpose a long time ago and their only remaining value has been eliminated by Obamacare. Right to work for less only proves that unionism acts a leach on employment, unions are anti-productive and are nothing but a liability.
CowDung December 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Lyle: What reason do you give for justification of public sector unions? Certainly corporate greed isn't the issue there....
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Michigan has implemented RTW in preparation for the soon to be appointed Emergency Manager of Detroit to throw out the public employee unions and try to create a sustainable situation in Detroit. Eventually the Police and Fire people will need to be addressed - but that is simply too much to implement at once. "DETROIT (WJBK) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says his administration are doing everything they can to avoid having the city file for bankruptcy or have an emergency manager take over. "We got to get more resources as current cuts have gone way too deep," says Bing. The number of city employees is now below 10-thousand, with another 400 to 500 hundred layoffs coming in the next couple of months, police and fire could be impacted, but they're trying not to take any officers off the streets. Bing spoke to reporters at the press conference on Friday,just a few days after state Treasurer Andy Dillon told city officials that next week he will begin a 30-day review process that could lead to appointment of an emergency financial manager. Bing: "Let's not BS anybody, when you make these additional cuts, it's gonna have a negative impact on service" http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/20290518/bing-400-500-layoffs-are-expected It's the beginning of the end of the excesses from the 20thC. and the Baby Boomers. Cont.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Take a look at Daily Job Cuts http://www.dailyjobcuts.com/ OMG! Throwing that many people out of work - and private sector businesses closing has to end. Government spending must be controlled. Government needs to stop throwing employees under the bus to meet their budget - it must stop raising taxes and putting people out of business - SO IT MUST DRASTICALLY CUT WAGES AND BENEFITS. 21st. C global economy post-peak oil world reality. YES - I know government employee - You've got a McMansioon, SUV, Vacations, Travel, Furniture, Clothes and dining out every night - but not for much longer. Your carbon footprint is going to get smaller - you won't burn so much fuel, and the house won't be so warm. You'll declare bankruptcy and no more Surf 'n Turf. Boomers - prepare for palliative care. How much degrowth is enough to create a sustainable civilization? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcQYI4yo8mM&feature=context-cha
Greg December 15, 2012 at 02:25 AM
@Lyle, Training of tradesmen by the unions is long past. The unions produce the worst trained. Do you want an electrician working on your house that served his entire apprenticeship doing nothing but hanging pipe at some power plant? Never learned to bend pipe, never worked in a breaker panel and never got to troubleshoot anything because those jobs are only for the guys with seniority. If the unions went back to quality training programs maybe RTW would pose less of a threat.
Lyle Ruble December 15, 2012 at 02:48 AM
@CowDung....Government employees unionized and need unions for the same reason that any other group needs to organize. For state workers it is primarily for work place rights and conditions. Believe it or not, there is a great deal of managerial abuse that goes on within the state system.
Steve ® December 15, 2012 at 08:14 AM
According to Lyle 99% of the work force wants to be unionized. Facts are only relevant if the liberal media reports them. When asked the workforce hates the idea of being in a union.
Steve ® December 15, 2012 at 08:17 AM
Public workers are the cause of global warming and need to be buried in the desert.
Vicki Bennett December 15, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Lyle, you brought out the "trolls" in force. They haven't had much meat to chew on lately. The problem for Indiana is that no one wants to relocate their business or family there because of the terrible educational system. The state is drying up like an old prune. RTW or not, businesses can't run fast enough Indiana.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 02:50 PM
The lies from the Left never end. Replace Indiana with Racine, WI. in your last sentence, and you got some truth. Anderson Indiana: And Mayor Kevin Smith, just re-elected last November, could not be happier with the ninth new company coming to Anderson in 10 months to join Nestle's and that big attraction, Hoosier Park, that also is just off I-69. More than 50 people gathered at Anderson City Hall Tuesday to laud the HY-PRO move announced this week.Over the next three years, the company will invest $10.5 million to build a new headquarters and manufacturing facility to build what Aaron Hoeg calls "their stuff." The average pay of jobs is $21 an hour. http://www.andersonfreepress.net/node/27780 Smith added that Hy-Pro is the ninth new jobs announcement his administration has made this year. In July, Greenville Technologies Inc. unveiled plans to build a new $21.4 million plant here that’s expected to create 325 new manufacturing jobs. A month later, Nestlè expressed interest in investing $166 million in its existing facility that would create an additional 104 jobs. A final announcement is pending approval from Nestlè’s European headquarters. Also in August, a new company called Impact Container Inc., which makes specialized air cargo containers, chose Anderson for its new production facility. The company is expected to invest $1 million and create 175 jobs over the next four years. Cont.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Interim Economic Development Director Greg Winkler said the numbers associated with those announcements include 1,067 jobs and $206 million in new investment in Anderson. http://www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/main.asp?SectionID=31&SubSectionID=299&ArticleID=67118 We can only dream of that - and what it would do to re-energize the dead zone called SouthEast Wisconsin. Public Employees - Get you LOOT ON!
Vicki Bennett December 15, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Big deal... That's one little town. I'm not saying that Wisconsin is getting any better. It's getting worse with the Rep in charge. We may soon look like Indiana. A lot of Indiana is just an extension of the worst of Chicago. If you truly believe that 1,000 jobs makes a difference, you're dreaming. You've got to improve the infrastructure of state and the educational system to have a successful future.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Public workers need to all be fired and re-hired at minimum wage. No one will do the jobs? Pure BS. Isn't that what illegal immigrants from South America were brought in for? South East Wisconsin is full of them - working for cash, running businesses - roofing, lawn service, painting, drywalling, framing, resturants, drugs, etc. etc. Anything so that the cheap mass of Baby Boomers doesn't have to pay "living wages" for the services they demand in their old age. The future of the youth of America has been mortgaged beyond what can be repaid. Time to offer the Boomers short-term, quick service palliative care and end the drag on the economy. Wait, because if anything what politicians do is kick the can to the bitter end - then see what happens in bankrupt Detroit. There is no money magic tree in public employee fantasyland.
Richard Head December 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Big Deal? You bet it's a Big Deal. That's all you can say to defend your lies? CLUE 1: Education is funded from the tax base. Growing the tax base = more money available for education. Economics 101. From FORBES Magazine - you know, a hateful magazine dedicated to private business interests "The biggest gainer in this year’s rankings was Indiana, which jumped 16 spots to No. 18. Indiana benefited from our inclusion of the regulatory component of the Freedom in the 50 States, which replaced a regulatory study from the Pacific Research Institute. Indiana ranked first on regulatory climate in the Freedom study. Indiana’s job outlook has also improved dramatically. A year ago, its five-year employment outlook was the worst in the U.S., but now it ranks in the top half of states, according to Moody’s Analytics." http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2012/12/12/utah-tops-list-of-the-best-states-for-business/ All you got to offer is hysterics. Solutions take time - this is not TV. The FIRST STEP for Wisconsin will be to go RTW. It will only get worse until RTW occurs - because WISCONSIN CAN'T COMPETE IN A 21st.C GLOBAL ECONOMY.
Jay Sykes December 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Lyle Sez... " With the continuing slow economic growth, the Republican legislature needs to leave this wish[Right To Work] lying on the side of road and concentrate on creating jobs in the state. RTW time has passed." ********************** Apparently, if the current three year trend continues, RTW time has Not passed.... "Since the recession ended in June 2009, almost three out of every four jobs added to U.S. payrolls have been in Right to Work states (1.86 million out of 2.59 million), even though those 22 states represent only 38.8% of the U.S. population (120 million). In contrast, only about one of every four new jobs were created in forced-unionism states (730,000), even though more than 61% of Americans live in those 28 states (189 million). Relative to their population, the Right to Work states have been job-creating powerhouses during the recovery, and forced union states haven’t even come close to “carrying their weight” in terms of their share of the population. Adjusting for differences in population, Right to Work states created four new jobs for every one job added in forced union states, because those 21 RTW states created 2.54 times more jobs even though forced union states have 1.6 times as many people. " http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/11/since-2009-right-to-work-states-have-created-4x-as-many-jobs-as-forced-union-states-and-may-have-help-obamas-re-election/
JMB December 15, 2012 at 09:25 PM
What's the big deal, if Unions are such a great deal for their members they should be happy to pay their dues. I tend to think that a lot of those selfish union workers won't pay their fare share. The irony of this situation is beautiful. This has made my Christmas.
Luke December 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Lyle created a line on smokable clothing made of hemp.
Bob McBride December 16, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Sorry...missed the comment last night, Lyle. On any other Friday (due to obvious circumstances), perhaps. However, I think it's also dependent on some things we have no control over, like the presence of PMS served up a side order of Toyota flambé, for instance.
JMB December 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
"The “Open Shop” is an inheritantly unjust arrangement. When workers are given a choice whether to join the union or not, those that choose not to, receive all the benefits essentially for free." Kind of like those that have to pay higher taxes so that others can get all the benefits for free. Maybe what would be fair is that those that don't pay taxes can't vote. If everyone had to pay a certain percentage of their wages to the federal government, they might be more concerned with the debt and deficit. I thought the Democrats were all about pro-choice not so much when it comes to Unions.
CowDung December 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM
"Lyle, you brought out the "trolls" in force. They haven't had much meat to chew on lately. " Vicki: You often come across as an angry and bitter person. Please try to post without including put downs of others posting comments on the article.
Lyle Ruble December 17, 2012 at 11:45 PM
@JMB....Income is not reasonable issue for voting. That is a poll tax, which is illegal. We all pay for those that can't afford to pay. I don't see the injustice in that, but see it as a duty. You're practicing "pocketbook morality".

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