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Unions vow political payback for right-to-work law

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 9, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

— Labor unions and their Democratic allies acknowledge there’s virtually no chance of preventing right-to-work legislation from being enacted in Michigan this week. But they’re planning to fight to the end — and seek payback at the polls.

The Republican-controlled state House and Senate are expected to put finishing touches as early as Tuesday on bills that would prohibit requiring employees to join a union or pay fees similar to union dues as a condition of employment. Gov. Rick Snyder says he’ll sign them.

Right-to-work supporters say it’s about improving the business climate and giving employees freedom of association. But unions say such laws bleed them of money and power to bargain for good wages and benefits.

Thousands of protesters are expected to converge on the state Capitol in Lansing.

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LevitiCuss says... December 9, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.

I wonder why it's OK for owners and managers to collude and act collectively via trade and manufacturing organizations, chambers of commerce, etc., in order to gain an advantage over labor, but collective bargaining for labor is a bad thing.

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Whippersnapper says... December 9, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.

Forcing folks to pay dues to these organizations is the problem. Unions want to be able to force all employees to pay dues that they then use for these purposes, whether the employees want to or not. Businesses choose whether to participate in chambers of commerce to advance their causes, but those organizations have voluntary participation and voluntary dues/membership. By comparing unions to those organizations, you are actually endorsing the "right to work" approach where union dues are not compulsory.

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Jackabbott says... December 9, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.

Well you cant track the decline of the union movement beginning with the Reagan years to the parallel decline in the economy in the USA. Reagan' legacy of unfair trade deals,granting amnesty to illegals, lowering the taxes on the rich and shifiting costs to the middle class and killing off unions has worked for the benefit or the 1%. We never got the "paradise" that was promised, that is one reason for the no growth economy of today with China having all the manufacturing and jobs and the rest of holding the bag.

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JakeTidmore says... December 9, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.

EPI: Wages, Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance, And Employer-Sponsored Pensions Are All Lower In Non-Right-To-Work States. From a February briefing paper released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI):

This briefing paper directly examines the impact of RTW [right-to-work] on the wages and benefits received by workers, both union and nonunion. It does this by examining differences in the wages and benefits workers receive in RTW and non-RTW states. In a regression framework, we analyze the relationship between RTW status and wages and benefits after controlling for the demographic and job characteristics of workers, in addition to state-level economic conditions and cost-of-living differences across states. We find the following:

• Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic variables as well as state macroeconomic indicators. Using the average wage in non-RTW states as the base ($22.11), the average full-time, full-year worker in an RTW state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state.

• The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) is 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW states compared with non-RTW states, after controlling for individual, job, and state-level characteristics. If workers in non-RTW states were to receive ESI at this lower rate, 2 million fewer workers nationally would be covered.

• The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states, using the full complement of control variables in our regression model. If workers in non-RTW states were to receive pensions at this lower rate, 3.8 million fewer workers nationally would have pensions. [EPI, 2/17/11]

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JakeTidmore says... December 9, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.

EPI: "Right-To-Work May Undermine Economic Growth By Restricting Consumer Demand." From the April EPI report:

Throughout the unemployment crisis of the past two years, as economists looked to ignite job growth, policymakers and business leaders alike have pointed to consumer demand as the key prerequisite for job creation. In 2009, Business Roundtable Chairman Terry McGraw explained that "behind all these diverse and depressing numbers is one central driving fact: demand has collapsed....To find a path out of today's economic quagmire, [we] must jump start that demand." As we look to support growing sectors of the economy, it is clear that the future depends largely on an economy driven by consumption. Nationally, the top 10 occupations projected to add the greatest number of jobs over the coming decade are almost entirely dependent on either government revenue or consumer spending; they include food service, retail sales, health care, and education.

If states rely on wage-cutting right-to-work laws as a strategy for attracting outside manufacturers, they would undermine wage standards in both manufacturing and other industries, which could inadvertently hamstring job growth by restricting aggregate local economic demand.

For every $1 million in wage cuts to workers, $850,000 less is spent in the economy. Assuming that most of the spending would have gone to rent, food, clothing, and other family needs in local retail and services industries, this constitutes a significant loss of spending exactly when state economies need it most. A loss of $850,000 in local spending translates, on average, into a loss of six jobs in the local community. In this way, weakening union wage standards in order to attract mobile manufacturers raises a concern that job growth might constrict in the much larger industries that have come to dominate most states' economic growth plans. [EPI, 4/5/11]

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LevyRat says... December 9, 2012 at 5:39 p.m.

What is wrong with having the choice of joining a union or not joining a union? What are unions so afraid of, maybe losing their fat paycheck squeezed out of the sweat of someone else?

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NoUserName says... December 9, 2012 at 7:16 p.m.

11% of the workforce is union. Unions don't drive s**t anymore. Except, perhaps, companies into the ground. Jake's data notwithstanding. I'll have to look that paper up. Error margins propagate in statistics. I find it hard to believe they correct for all these factors and yet can be statistically significant at 3%. I worked UFCW union in HS & college. I was nothing but a union cash cow. Picketers made more than me per hour. And no, I couldn't be a picketer. I don't recall why, but we were all ineligible. Probably needed to work minimum hours per year which, as a HS or college student, was impossible. Oh, and while I didn't know it at the time, they pulled some illegal s**t with my hours worked. Needed union help? Watch 'em fold. Yeah. Go union.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... December 10, 2012 at 1:57 a.m.

Oh the luxuries of unions and their benefits. And where in the world would one think of passing those/the cost on down to?

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RonalFos says... December 10, 2012 at 8:03 a.m.

Those costs trickle down to the same people that the cost of US CEO pay being 450 times the average worker gets passed to. You don't seem to have a problem with that!

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