Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Labor's Behavior Led to Right-to-Work Support

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Labor's Behavior Led to Right-to-Work Support

Article excerpt

It was, said the business correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, "akin to pot-smoking pagans driving the Mormons out of Utah."

Rick Newman was referring to the votes in the Legislature last Tuesday that made Michigan -- birthplace of the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters -- the 24th right-to-work state.

Organized labor wouldn't have suffered this stunning defeat if union bosses hadn't tried to amend Michigan's constitution to forbid any restrictions on their power.

Voters in Ohio gave overwhelming support last year to a union- sponsored initiative to repeal restrictions on collective bargaining by public employees. Michigan is the fourth most heavily unionized state. The labor bosses were confident of victory.

But voters rejected the constitutional amendment, Prop 2, 57 to 42 percent in the November general election. The landslide defeat of this "audacious bid for union power" may prompt Republicans to push for right-to-work, The Detroit News predicted, presciently, in a Nov. 8 editorial.

Gov. Rick Snyder was reluctant to support right-to-work legislation, but Big Labor's outrageous behavior changed his mind, said Tom Walsh, business writer for the Detroit Free Press.

The new laws forbid unions to make workers pay them dues as a condition of employment. All workers should pay dues, because all workers benefit from the concessions they wring from management, unions say.

That's a "compelling" argument, said the Chicago Tribune. But the counter argument -- that forcing workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment violates the basic precepts of personal liberty -- "is more persuasive."

The "freeloader" argument might have seemed more compelling to voters if unions spent more on benefits for their members, less on benefits for union leaders and politics. The Michigan Education Association, the state's largest union, spent 11 percent of $122 million on "representational activities."

In 2010, full-time employees in a unionized work force earned a median salary of $917 per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary for non-union employees was $717. Since 1982, the wages of non-union workers have grown faster than the wages of union workers, BLS says. …

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