Mike Kueber's Blog

December 10, 2012

Right-to-work is on-the-run

Filed under: Economics,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 10:48 pm
Tags: , ,

Last week, an article in the San Antonio Express-News reported that Michigan was about to become a right-to-work state.  Because of Michigan’s tradition of being a union bulwark, this development was every bit as shocking as the state’s neighbor, Wisconsin, last year restricting the power of public-employee unions in that state. According to the E-N article, Michigan’s reform was easier to accomplish than Wisconsin’s because Michigan has a Republican super-majority in both legislative houses and a Republican governor.  Two questions:

  1. How does a state that easier votes for President Obama concurrently elect a Republican super-majority and governor?
  2. Is right-to-work another name for freedom-to-freeload?

Right-to-work laws, which were authorized in 1947 by the Taft-Hartley law, mean that an employee can’t be required to join a union or pay union dues.  By contrast, a closed-shop law requires employees to join a union or at least pay union dues.  Generally, people who have jobs do better financially in closed-shop states, but the jobs gradually migrate to right-to-work states.

Apparently, a Catholic Bishop in Detroit doesn’t believe in right-to-work.  According to the Associated Press, Bishop Gumbleton believes “all Christians and members of all faith traditions” should object to the bill, which he calls an effort “to break existing unions and prevent workers for organizing.”  Bishop Gumbleton, who has a well-deserved reputation for taking radical positions (multiple arrests for various civil disobedience) is incorrect in saying that right-to-work laws prevent workers from organizing and is hyperbolic in contending that it will break existing unions.  Unions exist and do good work in the 23 right-to-work states.

There are news reports that Pennsylvania, with its Republican legislature and governor, is also considering going the route of right-to-work, but its governor in a recent article suggested that they have more critical matters to attend to. 

More critical than improving that state’s business environment?  Tell that to the steel and coal people of Steubenville, OH, Weirton, WV, and Clairton, PA.


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