With Montana being the most unionized state in the Rocky Mountain West (last time I checked anyway), you may be interested in the news out of Michigan where the state House approved right to work legislation. Right to work legislation gives workers the choice to decide for themselves whether or not they want to join a union.
White House spokesman Jay Carney apparently refused to condemn the violence levelled against Right to Work supporters by union members (see video above). Meanwhile, James Sherk tackles the “right-to-freeload” argument advanced by right to work opponents.
The news from Michigan as written by the AP:
The state House swiftly approved two bills reducing unions’ strength Tuesday, one dealing with private-sector workers and the other with public employees, as thousands of furious protesters at the state Capitol roared in vain. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the measures into law within hours, calling them “pro-worker and pro-Michigan.”
“Workers deserve the right to decide for themselves whether union membership benefits them,” Snyder said. “Introducing freedom-to-work in Michigan will contribute to our state’s economic comeback while preserving the roles of unions and collective bargaining.”
Meanwhile, The Daily Caller also notes that the White House has declined to condemn the union violence in Michigan:
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to condemn the increasing violence and threats by union members in Michigan, merely telling reporters Tuesday that “the president believes in debate that’s civil.”
When asked by a reporter about a claim by Michigan state Democrat that “there will be blood” should Republicans pass a union-choice law in Michigan, Carney professed ignorance and then downplayed the comment.
“I haven’t see those comments, and I’m not sure they mean what someone interprets them to mean,” he said.
Meanwhile, writing at MichiganView.com, James Ferk tackles the argument by right to work opponents that workers shouldn’t have the freedom of choice when it comes to joining, or not joining, a union.
The National Labor Relations Act permits, but does not mandate, unions to negotiate as the “exclusive representatives” of all employees at a unionized company. This means that all workers must accept the union’s representation. They may not negotiate separately with their employer. Whether they like it or not, the union represents them.
Thus, unions have considerable leverage when bargaining with employers—they speak for every employee. But unions also have leverage over individual employees, since workers cannot bargain for themselves and must accept what their union negotiates. This enables unions to impose terms like mandatory dues on workers.
Many workers would be satisfied with their union and pay the dues. Others would not.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page, earlier this week, mentioned the Michigan law and pointed out the economic benefits of right to work legislation.
According to the West Michigan Policy Forum, of the 10 states with the highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws. Those numbers are driving a net migration from forced union states: Between 2000 and 2010, five million people moved to right-to-work states from compulsory union states.
Other policies (such as no income tax) play a role in such migration, so economist Richard Vedder tried to sort out the variables. In the 2010 Cato Journal, he wrote that “without exception” he found “a statistically significant positive relationship” between right to work and net migration.
Mr. Vedder also found a 23% higher rate of per capita income growth in right-to-work states.