December 11, 2012

At the WSJ on Right to Work: Great Editorial with a Perfect Headline

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:46 am

In a Monday night editorial published in today’s paper, we also learn that if Big Labor hadn’t attempted a serious overreach in November, it’s likely that none of this would have happened (bolds are mine):

Worker Liberation in Michigan
Another state gives individuals the right not to join a union.

The economic policy drift in Washington is antigrowth, but here and there in the states are glimmers of hope and change. The best news of late is in Michigan, which is poised this week to pass a landmark right-to-work law.

… Republicans and Governor Rick Snyder … have the moral and policy high ground. Union activists want voters to believe that right-to-work laws deny union organizing rights, or ban collective bargaining. President Obama peddled this distortion on Monday in Redford, Michigan, claiming that “what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.”

Right to work does no such thing. It empowers individual workers. As allowed under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, right to work merely lets individual workers choose for themselves if they want to join a union. The laws prevent closed union shops, which coerce individual workers to join unions and to pay union dues. A teacher who opts out under right to work, for example, could save several hundred dollars in annual union dues that go to political causes he may not even believe in.

Unions loathe right to work because they know that many workers would rather not join a union. Americans have seen what happened to the auto and steel industries, the Post Office and so many others. Unions can extract monopoly wages and benefits for a time from a profitable industry, but often at the cost of making that industry less competitive and eventually at the cost of union jobs. Thus did Teamster work rules—cake and bread had to be delivered in separate trucks—cost the bakery workers their jobs at Hostess. Right to work gives workers a choice.

Because the final right-to-work bill will contain an appropriations rider, under Michigan law unions won’t be able to overturn it by referendum, as they did to Ohio’s collective-bargaining reforms in 2011. Unions can still try to overturn right to work with a constitutional amendment, but that’s a harder slog. The union attempt in November to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution, which won only 42% of the vote, broke a longstanding tacit truce in Michigan politics on union rules and prompted Republicans to pass right to work.

Let’s see now. Osama bin Laden is dead. GM is alive — and in no small part because of its blank-check resuscitation, its Treasury-granted, bankruptcy law-twisting exemption from federal income taxes, and a prevailing belief that Uncle Sam can somehow pick winners and losers better than the private sector, our government is on life support.

Oh, and the gullibly emboldened labor movement in Michigan may have dealt their brothers and sisters throughout the nation a fatal blow to the closed shop.



  1. Related:

    FDR and the Lessons of the Depression
    Higher taxes on capital and increased union power led to the 1937 economic slide.

    Meanwhile, after the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, union membership rose to about 25% in 1938 from about 12% in 1934. The increase in unionization was fostered by the sit-down strike.

    In late 1936 and early 1937, for example, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) occupied a General Motors auto body plant in Flint, Mich. Without auto bodies, production plummeted, and the company was forced to settle the strike and recognize the union.

    The GM strike effectively unionized the auto industry, as UAW membership rose more than 15-fold the following year to about 500,000 members. Just the threat of a sit-down strike by steelworkers led to a unionized U.S. Steel in 1937. An unprecedented increase in union power increased manufacturing wages by nearly 10% between 1936 and 1938, which increased costs and reduced employment.

    There are important parallels between the tax and labor policies of FDR and those of President Obama. As in the 1930s, tax rates on capital income will be rising sharply with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Beginning in 2011, dividends will be taxed as ordinary income with rates increasing up to 39.6% for many taxpayers, more than double the current 15% rate. The capital gains tax rate will rise to 20% from 15%.

    And like FDR, Mr. Obama has advanced unionization through his recess appointments to the NLRB and his support for “card check,” a provision in the controversial Employee Free Choice Act that would allow unions to organize without holding a secret ballot vote.

    Comment by dscott — December 11, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  2. [...] At the WSJ on Right to Work: Great Editorial with a Perfect Headline [...]

    Pingback by At the WSJ on Right to Work: Great Editorial with a Perfect Headline | PERSUASION IN INK — December 11, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

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