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  • Morning Bell: Right to Work Heads to Indiana

    In 22 states in the Union, workers have the freedom under “Right-to-Work” laws to decide whether or not to pay union dues, and now Indiana is poised to become the twenty-third state on that list, bringing the workers there renewed hope in an economy that has seen few glimmers of light.

    Last week, Indiana’s House and Senate passed a right-to-work bill after weeks of political maneuvering by pro-union politicians hoping to stop the proposal in its tracks. Today, the legislation returns to the state’s Senate for a final vote, and Governor Mitch Daniels (R) has promised to sign the bill into law. Meanwhile, a dozen labor unions have protested the measure, with threats to “occupy” the Super Bowl to be held in Indianapolis next week. Nationally, right-to-work states have become a target, as well. Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took aim at the Boeing Corporation for its decision to locate a new factory in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The NLRB attempted to stop Boeing from making fundamental decisions about where to do business — ultimately, it dropped the case after union negotiators reached a deal that benefited their members in a union state.

    Proponents of Indiana’s measure — which protects workers from being fired for not paying union dues — say that the law will help the state attract more businesses and jobs, spurring economic growth. And there’s data that proves it. Heritage’s James Sherk writes that right-to-work states have lower unemployment rates (9.2 percent) than states without right-to-work laws (9.9 percent). And though critics say that could be a result of regional differences (right-to-work states are mostly in the South and West), research comparing counties across state lines shows that, “The share of manufacturing jobs in counties in right-to-work states is one-third higher than in adjacent counties in non–right-to-work states,” as Sherk explains.

    It’s understandable that states would want the benefits that right to work brings, but it’s also understandable why unions oppose it so strongly. When Idaho and Oklahoma passed right-to-work laws, union membership fell 15 percent. Likewise, all the dues the unions collect plummeted right along with their membership. Sherk writes that in Indiana, right to work would save private-sector workers $18.4 million a year. In union-stronghold Michigan, where some are pushing for the law, workers would save $46.4 million a year. And though unions claim that right to work undermines their ability to keep wages high — truly the bread-and-butter of the union movement — most studies show that right-to-work laws have little effect on wages in either direction.

    All that said, while workers are rejecting unions, they still want their voices heard in the workplace. Sherk explains how systems like these can operate in non-union workplaces:

    Many employees (and employers) would like employee involvement (EI) programs and work groups in which workers and supervisors can meet to discuss workplace issues. These programs can take many forms. Examples include self-directed work teams, safety committees, and production committees. The essential element is advancing employee interests through employee involvement.

    Polls show that 60 percent of workers prefer EI programs to improve working conditions over either more government regulations or labor unions. Examples of effective EI programs that advance worker interests abound.

    The trouble is that current law prohibits non-union employers and employees to work together to improve working conditions. Sherk writes that Congress banned these kinds of programs in order to prevent companies from creating and negotiating with employer-dominated “company unions” to fight off organizing drives — a senseless prohibition today given that few workers want to unionize, anyhow.

    Employee involvement programs can improve working conditions, help companies attract valuable employees, and create an environment that’s beneficial to the workers — and to the company. Congress should give employees and employers this kind of flexibility. And in states where employees are still forced to pay union dues, governments ought to give their employees the right to work without fear of big labor reprisal.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Morning Bell: Right to Work Heads to Indiana

    1. Chuck says:

      It's high time. Unions are no longer needed given the great educational divide (thanks to the teachers union) among workers.

      • Jack W Estes says:

        Spot on Chuck – this is NOT the slave labor generation as described by Upton Sinclair in his book "The Junglie" about the Chicago meat packing industry in the 20's. I have experienced both sides of the fence and in my opinion many unions have evolved into overbearing thug rings looking out for themselves ahead of union members, oft times at the the expense of those seeking work.

    2. Lloyd Scallan says:

      We must realize that most every day union members are nothing but a pawn in the overall scheme the unions bosses have demanded. It's about money, which translate into power, the kind of power it takes to control not only other citizens of any given state, but the power to control a president and the nation that he governs.

    3. Joseph McKennan says:

      It is significant that the stronghold of unions is Michigan. Every 10 or 12 years the auto companies go to he government for a handout. That should speak volumes about the effectiveness of unions. I read an article the other day the a trend in employment is a streamlined workforce that is cost efficient. That is the opposite of what unions are about– ie.) high wages and low output.

    4. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Watch wages drop in the public and private sector in Indiana as a result of the Right to Work (for less) legislation.

      • Rick, Oklahoma says:

        Wages only drop for those not able to produce a product at an acceptable rate. Unions breed mediocrity. If I produce more product, and a better product, I expect more compensation than those that do not. Unions are the basis of the "fairness" verbiage politicians use today.

      • Jimbo says:

        Yeah, the people who work at the non union Toyota plants actually make more money,, because the factory does not have to pay lifetime or excessive benefits to people who are quite frankly wasting space sometimes in those plants.

    5. D. Scalley says:

      Nice wording about the Boeing actions. Does this mean that Boeing will continue to build and operate their aircraft business in South Carolina?

      • Chris Kinkor says:

        Yes, the NLRB has backed down in response to political pressure, but they were required to keep a plant in Washington in addition to the new one in South Carolina.

    6. toledofan says:

      The unions were a very important part of our industrial revolution and provided the imputus for workers to get paid a decent wage for a days work. The problem with the unions can be contrasted with the government; both have grown too large and have become so top heavy that they need more money to keep their burearacy in place, once they get more money they hire more burearcy, waste more money and do little to help the people that pay the dues. Kinda just like taxes.

      • g.fisher says:

        don't know what large means???? but in indiana, union employees represent aboout 10% of the workforce!!!!

    7. Carl says:

      I've always wondered (and never had answered) why unionizing isn't exactly the same as collusion?–which is illegal. For instance, two or more sole-proprietors cannot set a fee or wage for their product or service, but two or more machinists can set a fee or wage. I understand that they are technically "employees" but isn't that just an arbitrary legal distinction? The sole-proprietor and machinist have more in common that not. Being that I do not have the intellectual horse-power of an Obama, I don't get it. My message is; can't some organization(s) (like Heritage) spearhead the effort to challenge the very legality of Unions at all? I would also challenge Union members with the notion that they are securing the services of a Mommy and Daddy (the Union)–how embarrassing. Wouldn't they prefer the opportunity to negotiate their own wage and/or contract–like a real grown-up?

      • COLE says:


      • Carol,AZ says:

        Yes; collusion is a screaming example as seen in all gas prices and other examples, having nothing to do with unions per se.
        Teachers' unions on the other hand have become the protective front to ensure that the worse teachers continue to be protected, and given tenure.
        The dangerous part of this scenario are the cases of sexual deviates that are found working under the protective cover of unions and their certain collusion.
        No one will rock this boat: many cases are covered up unless the parents of the child go public.

    8. Kaydell Bowles says:

      How odd that there is a movement to prevent the right to work law. Is this not a fundamental right to guarantee the pursiut of happiness? Yet look at those who oppose the right to work. May we diligent in giving all people the right to work that they may provide for themselves and family and their pursuit of happiness as declared in the Declaration of Independence

    9. Morton Friedman says:

      Where once the sweatshops and the company towns spawned the need for unions, the pendulum has swung far too far. Today the unions, like big government, have spawned big tyrants.

      Where union power created the 'closed' shop, translated as father-son, it is mind-boggling to understand why those in favor of equal rights have not risen in revolt against the unions. For the 'closed shop' has done more to maiintain discrimination than almost anything else you can imagine.

      For those who tout unions as patriotic, they need only to examine the strikes, by unions, at times of national emergency.

      Reagan was right in his action against the Air Traffic Controllers union, and I, as so many other Federal employees, applauded that action. Unions have absolutely no place in the Public sector.

    10. ThomNJ says:

      Having been in a position of being forced to join a union many years back and subsequently having worked on the other side of the fence supervising union employees, I will very quickly opt out of a union. I find it disgusting that the NJ state government has regulations in effect forcing government contracts to be awarded to union only shops – this guarantees higher cost, longer time to completion, reduced competition and a denial of liberty – all coming down on higher taxes for the taxpayer.

      Being in a union also means being unable to be rewarded for an excellent or very good job, because the employer cannot legally give something to one union member without giving the same thing to all. This also removes the incentive to be a better producing or contributing employee – which in turn, reduces the competitiveness of the company and their potential profitability which they could share with the workforce.

    11. allen says:

      You never hear of the structure of the UNIONS? Such as how many Shop Stewarts are there,? where does the big Boss live.? what are their take-home pay.? benifits of these no name people that control MILLIONS in DUES,? I would like to see their Names, where they live, how much is the pay,benifits,vacation, do they fly 1st class or have their own jets ? in other words VETT these High Rollers, every Union published once a year. Buy the way do these DUDES pay DUES? or does the union?

      • jimbo says:

        Union leadership makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, just to extort more money out of the company and lobby governments to favor them with legislation.

    12. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      The unions call it right to shirk.

    13. James Lovell says:

      Good for Indiana, finally a state standing up against the unions. Unions, in today's world, along with their enablers in the Obama administration, are the most destructive force and biggest roadblock to a robust economic recovery.

      Here's hoping more states "step up to the plate" and fight the unions bosses and provide some sanity with regard to reigning in public sector unions their non-productive rules and and pension benefits, which in the private sector would bankrupt a company, just as they are bankrupting many states around the country.

    14. George Gallo says:

      Didn't Mitch Daniels propose this and then back away from it? Is this round two? Hope he succeeds –if only to watch as Illinois is flanked on all sides by right to work states that will empty it of all semblance of productive enterprise and implode its corrupt leadership from whence Obama metastasized..

    15. Larry N Stouffer says:

      Unions are the underlying problem. The real problem is monopolies! I don't care if anyone joins a union, or any other club. I do care that they are empowered to not let the rest of us play. This is America. We should all have the Right To Work, too.

    16. Ron W. Smith says:

      The object should be, as I keep saying, to make unions unnecessary. Where wages, benefits, and working conditions are satisfactory, union organizers don't have a chance. I've never been a union member for that reason, and in a time when unions were in their heyday, my father worked for Grumman Aircraft, a non-union employer whose management knew how to stay a step ahead of the organizers. It remains a good formula.
      You and I know, though, that the current bad mouthing of unions, the Wisconsin adventure included, is being promoted by those who want work forces that are voiceless, compliant, underrewarded and overworked. Without the upward pressure on wages, benefits, and work conditions that unions have traditionally provided, just watch the direction those three head in coming years. I live in a "Right to Work" state and see the day-to-day of what happens without that pressure–employers encouraged to locate here knowing they'll not have labor problems, will have lower wages (a big selling point for the state), and will probably be in on the ground floor in reducing benefits and work regulations.
      There are no secrets behind the pushing of "Right to Work," folks. Believe it.

      • Larry N Stouffer says:

        In America, Ron, we are our own union. If you don't like the deal, don't take it. The more qualified folks who either don't take a gig because of one thing or another, and folks who quit the gig and go to a company who provides what they need, the sooner the first company will understand they need to offer more. If they don't, they'll simply have under-qualified workers, produce poor quality products or services, and will not survive. Hail to the Free Enterprise system. Be your own union. Be independent, not dependent. How's that union monopoly doing for you in Michigan, etc., etc.

    17. R Brown says:

      Although I am ashamed to admit it several decades ago I slept on the job or did nothing for days at a time because of union work rules its no wonder that the company went bankrupt and was bought by a non-union outfit who got the same output with half the employees causing about 1200 people to be unemployed, not even counting the loss of business in the town.

    18. Dave says:

      Unions had a time and a place. Now they have becoming bullying organizations that spend too much time and money on politics and controlling their workers. No incentive here. Who'd want a union boss bullying me and my family.

    19. Ken Massey says:

      I spent ten years in a GM plant dealing with the UAW union. This was the most negative experience of my 40 year work career. The other 30 years were spent in the Professional Electronics Industry. Much better work environment and the people were more informed and better educated. No need for a 3rd party (Union) interference and we treated our people like royalty and provided them excellent pay and benefits.

    20. Plant worker says:

      I think where ever right to work is law it is better for everyone. I was a union member, and secretary, of the union. My experience with the union is (except in very very rare cases) they are there to defend the people who do not want to work and are deadbeats. (I say that because the only people that went to the union were those in trouble for not doing their job OR trouble makers). The only time I see a need for the union is when you have a very exreme health issue or dangerous situation, Even then the government has enough safe guards in place that is not much of an issue now. Part of the reason so many jobs went over seas is because of the union.

    21. Wayne Peterkin says:

      Unions, including public employee unions, exist today for one purpose: To bilk employers out of everything they can get for the least amount work by their members.

      In the process, they encourage mediocrity and protect incompetence.

      I have never heard of a union pushing for more productivity from their members or even requiring a minimal level of performance.

      Instead, they insist on equal pay for each job classification regardless of skill or performance, promotions based on seniority rather than merit or management potential, work policies that promote the least efficiency and require the greatest number of people, maximum amount of time off work, unreasonable pension and healthcare benefits paid by employers, etc.

      Therefore, while unions may benefit their less productive members, they hurt the economy and jobs overall as well as hurting their most productive members. They are one primary reason of several (taxes and regulations are others) why businesses move to Right-to-Work states or even out of the country.

      Since union liabilities far outweigh their benefits, they deserve no support from the general, non-union, population.

    22. Pamela says:

      It's time to get rid of unions People, it's the middle guy you try to avoid when you purchase things online or try to find the best deal out there. these union people are getting paid bIG BUCKS for doing nothing except taking your money, giving perks to workers who shouldn't get any more than any others and people that work under unions can sleep on the jobs while others work their rears off because you believe in hard work etc.

    23. Jeanne Stotler says:

      I live in a "Right to work " state and the salary is on par with any other state. My late husband was Union, and they were necessary way back, now they, the unions, only promote taking hunks of ones pay and have Union officias living high on the hog.

    24. Whicket Williams says:

      The only thing unions have ever done for me is take my money.

    25. Randy says:

      Unions were originally created for the right purposes: for workers to band together and have representation in order to fight for better working conditions at a time when workers were little more than slaves, conditions were frequently deadly, and children often exploited. Now, myriad protections exist for all workers and conditions are radically improved. Unions no longer have the proper context to warrant their existence. They stifle competitive efficiency and keep American work quality low by lobbying for A+ pay for doing C- quality of work. It's time they go away.

    26. Lieseljune says:

      Unions throughout history have been a detriment to productivity. They are collectivist and protectionist and serve only themselves. They have destroyed industry after industry in this country and around the world. Do we make steel here any more? How about textiles? Because of burdensome government regulations and unions, industry has moved from the United States to overseas. As for public unions, they should be outlawed. It is ridiculous to have public employee unions. Public employees produce nothing, yet they reap huge pensions and benefits, while the unions garner huge profits and power. It is high time unions were broken never to return again.

    27. Government Executive says:

      I managed dozens of federal civil "servants" and was attacked, stymied and undermined by the SEIU-affiliated union. Everything bad that you've heard about unions, except violence, I personnal witnessed. "Plant Worker" is correct that unions defend the lowest common denominator. It is only fair to note that some local union presidents are reasonalbe, but they are rare and still preside over pay and benefits system that the private sector wouldn't pay. The good employees (and there are many) are ASSETS their bosses are glad to have and strive to keep. Folks, federal employee unions waste litterally millions of our tax dollars at every, individual military installation in the US, alone. Whether people organize in the private sector is their choice, but we need to abolish federal unions.

    28. PaulC37 says:

      Unions have denied us the right to vote. The right to work, and worst of all their piggish wage and benefit packages have driven manufacturing of all widgets overseas.

      Unions are death to America in every way imaginable. They must be outlawed.

    29. Ken Forsberg says:

      How interesting it would be to see the reaction in Congress if a bill was brought to the floor requiring mandatory Union membership for all Congressional members requiring the monthly payment of dues in order for them to retain their seats or be fired!

      Do you think this might bring home what right to work stands for in America?

    30. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Unions call right to work "right to shirk."

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