Please read and pass the word. We've got a LOT of work to do to change this society and we should never forget that the brutal, extremely wealthy, and well organized forces aligned against us (e.g. the national political rightwing, corporations, banks, billionaire developers, Wall Street, governmental and economic elites in both national political parties etc.) are absolutely determined to destroy us in both the short and long run and if we don't collectively wake up and fight back on a massive national scale these forces and their deadly agenda will succeed and only we will be the utterly defeated victims of their withering assault...Stay tuned...
GOP, Koch Brothers Sneak Attack Guts Labor Rights in Michigan
by John Nichols
December 6, 2012
Union leaders warned that, if organized labor can be so battered in the union heartland of Michigan, it can—and may—be attacked anywhere. And the national significance of the move was highlighted by a statement from the Obama White House, which said:
President Obama has long opposed so-called “right-to-work” laws and he continues to oppose them now. The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan—and its workers’ role in the revival of the US automobile industry—is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.
But, while the president carried Michigan by a 54-44 margin on November 6, neither he nor his fellow Democrats were calling the shots Thursday.
Snyder, a Republican, has indicated that he will sign the measure that was passed during a lame-duck session of the legislature.
Employing slick messaging and a timeline clearly developed to thwart opposition, Snyder and his legislative allies claimed that they were enacting anti-labor legislation to create “Freedom to Choose” in the workplace. But the Orwellian turn of phrase did not fool the working people of Michigan, thousands of whom surrounded and occupied the Capitol during a day of emotional protest. “Right-to-work would set all Michigan workers back in terms of wages, benefits and safety on the job,” declared Mike Polkki, a mine worker from Ishpeming who joined furious last-minute efforts to lobby members of the Republican-controlled legislative chambers. “Instead of attacking the middle class, our lawmakers should work to build it back up.”This was theme or protests throughout the day, as Michigan unions made the point that undermining labor rights undermines the living standards of all working people—not just union members.“There are some basic economic facts that should inform any thoughtful discussion of Right to Work legislation. Workers, union or nonunion, make an average of $1,500 less per year in Right to Work states. They are also less likely to have pension or health care benefits,” explained Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift. “The growth rate for Right to Work states before they adopted such policies is actually higher than the growth rate for these states after they adopted these laws.”
The statements were true.
But they were not taken seriously by the Republicans who—though they suffered setbacks in the November 6 election—control both chambers of the Michigan legislature. Swift and UAW president Bob King were among hundreds of workers who were locked out of the Michigan Capitol Thursday, as protesters inside were pepper-sprayed and arrested by State Police.
The Michigan legislation goes much further than proposals advanced last year by Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, which targeted public employees. Under the Michigan legislation, basic labor rights are stripped away from both public and private-sector workers.
That’s not the only difference between Michigan Governor Snyder and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose name became synonymous with aggressive anti-labor initiatives when in February 2011, he moved to strip collective bargaining rights from teachers and public employees.
“At least Scott Walker had the backbone to barge through the front door” and propose his legislation, argued Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a pro-labor Democrat from East Lansing. Michigan’s Snyder, who suggested for months that he was not interested in advancing “right to work” legislation, suddenly shifted position at the eleventh hour, when he sided with the most rigidly anti-labor of his party’s legislators.
“They’re cowards,” declared Whitmer, who bluntly declared: “They are taking away our rights.”
Whitmer got that right. But the cowards were in charge Thursday.
As in Wisconsin, where crucial elements of Walker’s anti-labor law have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, the Michigan legislators bent the rules of their chambers to rush the law to Snyder’s desk.
Ultimately, those abuses could end up preventing implementation of the law—although that’s a hope rather than a certainty.
There is also the hope that voters in a state that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow on November 6 will eventually elect a new pro-labor governor and legislature.
The determination to fight for labor rights runs deep in Michigan. It’s a part of the state’s history, and UAW President King says it is far from finished.
Referring to anti-labor billionaire Dick DeVos, a Michigan Republican who has worked closely with fellow billionaires Charles and David Koch to fund anti-labor initiatives, King said: “This is a short-term victory for Dick DeVos and the radical right wing. In the long-term there will be a victory for working families in Michigan.”
Taking Aim at Michigan’s Middle Class
New York Times
The decline of the middle class in this country has paralleled that of the labor movement, which has been battered by the relentless efforts of business groups and Republicans to drive down wages, boost corporate profits and inflate executive salaries and bonuses. Now that campaign is on the verge of a devastating victory in Michigan, home of the modern labor movement, which could transform the state’s economy for the worse.
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to pass a law that would allow workers to avoid paying dues to a union that represents their shop. Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has reversed an earlier position and said he would sign the law. Democratic officials, labor leaders and workers are urging him to reconsider, knowing that a business victory in Michigan, of all places, would encourage other states to make the same mistake.
These measures are misleadingly known as “right to work” laws, and their purpose is no less deceptive. Business leaders say workers should not be forced to join a union against their will, but, in fact, workers in Michigan can already opt out of a union. If they benefit from the better wages and benefits negotiated by a union, however, they are required to pay dues or fees, preventing the free riders that would inevitably leave unions without resources.
Concern for the rights of individual workers, of course, is not the real reason business is pushing so hard for these laws. Gutting unions is the fastest way to achieve lower wages and higher profits. Last year, in support of an Indiana antidues laws that later passed, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the law would draw businesses to the state for lower labor costs. A study by the University of Notre Dame in January found that the average wages and benefits for nonfarm workers in right-to-work states was $57,732, while in states without the law it was $65,567. States with antidues laws have higher rates of poverty and lower rates of health coverage.
Republican officials also know that depriving unions of dues will hurt Democratic candidates, who usually win the support of labor. As President Obama said at a diesel plant in Redford, Mich., on Monday, “These so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”
Mr. Snyder’s turnabout shocked workers in his state, and Democratic officials have spent the last few days urging him to reconsider and prevent a needless drive to the bottom. By withholding his signature, he can ensure that Michigan remains both the birthplace and the economic foundation of middle-class security.
Michigan Races to the Bottom With Anti-Union Law
By Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed
Pay attention to what is happening in Michigan, because it will add downward even more pressure to your wages and benefits, wherever you live and work.
Pay attention to what is happening in Michigan, because it will add downward even more pressure to your wages and benefits, wherever you live and work. Republicans in the Michigan legislature have rammed through anti-union “right-to-work” laws making union dues voluntary even as unions a required by law to provide services to members and non-members. They say this will make Michigan more “business-friendly” by driving down wages and benefits, thereby stealing jobs from states where working people have rights. The actual intent is to get rid of the unions altogether, and their ability to fight for the 99% in the ongoing class war with the 1%.
What Are So-Called “Right-To-Work” Laws?
“Right-to-work” means the right to work in a unionized business that has a negotiated contract without paying dues to the union.
The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act allows states to prohibit unions from collecting fees from non-members or making union membership mandatory, and states that do this are called “right-to-work” states. So-called “right-to-work” laws prohibit labor contracts from requiring employees who are covered by the contract to pay dues to the union that won the contract. But the unions are still required to represent every worker who is covered by a contract — even workers who are not members of the union and do not pay union dues. This costs money, so the union is drained of funds and power, thereby weakening their ability and incentive to fight for better wages and benefits.
Stealing From Other States, Lowering Wages And Tax Revenue
The appeal of these so-called “right-to-work” laws is that by weakening the ability of workers to band together and fight for better wages and conditions, they result in lower wages, benefits and safety standards. This is supposed to make these states more attractive to employers, which then brings jobs to the lower-wages states as employers leave states where worker have rights.
This affects wages across the larger economy. Any jobs that do move to these states come from other states. So in the larger economy of the country the effect of these laws is to shift wages, benefits and safety standards downward. This brings pressure that forces all wages for all employees down, which further lowers the country’s tax base, reducing the entire country’s ability to educate, maintain and modernize infrastructure, etc.
As jobs shift to lower-wage states, pressure to lower all wages increases, and the collection of income tax revenue decreases. The ability of consumers to make purchases decreases as well. Infrastructure investment declines. Education declines. Over time the country falls behind the rest of the world and it become more expensive and more difficult to catch up.
Or, in other words, exactly what we are seeing all around us now.
Studies Of The Effects
A May, 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that “right-to-work” states have lower wages (examples: 9.4% lower for all occupations, 11.4% lower for teachers) than states with union rights.
A January, 2012 study by American Rights at Work, New Research Counters Arguments for “Right-To-Work” Laws, examined a number of studies and found that “recent studies rebut claims of economic growth and instead find that laws suppress wages.”
In Nonunion Wage Rates and the Threat of Unionization Henry Farber, Professor of Economics at Princeton University found that after Idaho passed a RTW law in 1985, there was a statistically-significant drop in nonunion wages relative to other states.
Feb, 2011, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Does ‘right-to-work’ create jobs? Answers from Oklahoma,
Despite ambitious claims by proponents, the evidence is overwhelming that:
• Right-to-work laws have not succeeded in boosting employment growth in the states that have adopted them.
• The case of Oklahoma – closest in time to the conditions facing those states now considering such legislation – is particularly discouraging regarding the law’s ability to spur job growth. Since the law passed in 2001, manufacturing employment and relocations into the state reversed their climb and began to fall, precisely the opposite of what right-to-work advocates promised.
• For those states looking beyond traditional or low wage manufacturing jobs – whether to higher-tech manufacturing, to “knowledge” sector jobs, or to service industries dependent on consumer spending in the local economy – there is reason to believe that right-to-work laws may actually harm a state’s economic prospects.
Sept, 2011, EPI, ‘Right to work,’ The wrong answer for Michigan’s economy, findings included,
• Right-to-work laws lower wages—for both union and nonunion workers alike—by an average of $1,500 per year, after accounting for the cost of living in each state.
• Right-to-work laws also decrease the likelihood that employees get either health insurance or pensions through their jobs—again, for both union and nonunion workers.
• By cutting wages, right-to-work laws threaten to undermine job growth by reducing the discretionary income people have to spend in the local retail, real estate, construction, and service industries. Every $1 million in wage cuts translates into an additional six jobs lost in the economy. With 85 percent of Michigan’s economy concentrated in health care, retail, education, and other non-manufacturing industries, widespread wage and benefit cuts could translate into significant negative spillover effects for the state’s economy.
On CNN this morning UAW President Bob King explained that this bill threatens worker rights. “It demonstrates to workers and really a broad spectrum of the populous that we have to work hard, we have to fight hard to protect our rights.” Explaining that workers already have the choice to join a union, King said,“You don’t have to be a union member. But you have to pay your fair share. Just like if you live in a community, you pay for your fair share of the road cleaning, of the police, of the fire,” King argued. People who benefit by [the union's] collective bargaining benefit by this procedure. They pay a fair share of the cost of representation.”
Steelworkers leader Leo Gerard called on Michigan governor Snyder to veto the law, (click through for the entire statement)
“The USW active and retired members join other unions and allies in Michigan and across the nation to call on Gov. Snyder to support the proposal of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation. We ask the Governor to use his veto power to stop this unnecessary and divisive right-to-work bill.
“If the Governor feels this bill will move Michigan forward, he should delay the final legislative votes and allow an amendment that would put this issue before the public as a state ballot initiative. We urge Governor Snyder to delay his signing of the bill. Let the people of Michigan debate and vote on a consequential matter that will affect all working families.
“We know the newly-elected Michigan state legislature convening early next year has added Democrats that would reject a right-to-work-for-less bill. Right-to-work is only supported by millionaires and billionaires who profit by taking more money out of the workers’ pockets.
Demonstrations and Disruptions
In a sign of things to come, 12-15,000 people demonstrated today at Michigan’s capitol building. There were confrontations, including mounted police charging into the crowd. Former Congressman Mark Schauer was pepper-sprayed. Ned Resnikoff, writing in, Michigan passes ‘Right-to-Work’ but fight isn’t over at the Ed Schultz website.
Shortly after noon on Tuesday, Michigan’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives gave its final approval to the state’s hotly contested “right-to-work” legislation, as thousands of the bill’s opponents rallied outside. But labor activists and their allies say that the fight isn’t over yet, and they’re already plotting their strategy for keeping Michigan a union stronghold.
“This fight is not over by a long shot, regardless of what happens today,” said Zack Pohl, the executive director of Progress Michigan.
Mary Bottari at PRWatch: Michigan Passes “Right to Work” Containing Verbatim Language from ALEC Model Bill
AFL-CIO ‘Right to Work’ for Less fact sheet.
Economic Policy Institute, Unions and Labor Standards, a collection of articles, posts and studies of the effects labor and anti-labor policies.
Nicole Pasulka at Mother Jones, Right-to-Work Laws, Explained
Josh Eidelson at Salon, Koch brothers, Tea Party cash drives Michigan right-to-work bill
Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post, Big 3 Automakers Reportedly Worried About Michigan Right To Work Legislation
Teamster Nation: RTW passes in #MI as thousands try to enter Capitol
OurFuture post on being “business-friendly, China Is Very “Business-Friendly”,
China is very, very “business-friendly.” Corporate conservatives lecture us that we should be more “business-friendly,” in order to “compete” with China. They say we need to cut wages and benefits, work longer hours, get rid of overtime and sick pay — even lunch breaks. They say we should shed unions, get rid of environmental and safety regulations, gut government services, and especially, especially, especially we should cut taxes. But America can never be “business-friendly” enough to compete with China, and here is why.
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For more on the assault on American worker rights, check out Steve Fraser’s “The Hollowing Out of America” below: