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  • Morning Bell: Unions Losing in Their Last Stronghold

    This is the week that Michigan’s workers will finally be freed from forced unionization.

    After decades of United Auto Workers control over the struggling American auto industry, the Michigan legislature’s passing of a right-to-work law is historic. Governor Rick Snyder (R) is expected to sign the law as early as tomorrow.

    Regardless of news reports, the people of Michigan are behind this. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of Michigan voters support right-to-work. Only 41 percent are opposed. In fact, 40 percent of union households supported it. In November, Michigan voters rejected a ballot proposal that would have amended the state constitution to prevent the legislature from passing a right-to-work law and elevated union contracts above state law. The New York Times called it “a test case on enshrining the rights of unions,” and unions spent more than $23 million campaigning for the initiative. It lost by 15 points.

    They’re still campaigning. Yesterday, President Obama campaigned for the labor movement in Detroit by making false claims about the law:

    What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. We shouldn’t be doing that. 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.

    Those are strong words. They would be even stronger if they were true. As Heritage labor expert James Sherk explains:

    Right-to-work laws prevent unions from imposing mandatory fees, giving employees the right to work without paying union dues. Otherwise, right-to-work has no effect on collective bargaining. All other negotiations continue as before.

    Of course, the unions have a lot to lose. Sherk points out that “Polling shows a quarter of Michigan’s government employees would opt out of unions under a right-to-work law. Losing those members would cost Michigan’s unions more than $100 million annually.”

    When workers are freed from forced unionization, many of them opt out. They have left unions in droves in Wisconsin, Idaho, and Oklahoma.

    What Do Workers Gain?

    But workers have so much to gain: Right-to-work would let Michigan’s workers keep that $100 million for themselves and their families. And making union dues voluntary makes union organizers less aggressive—they get less financial benefit from organizing new firms, because they cannot force workers to pay them. Union organizing attempts drop 40 percent to 50 percent after states pass a right-to-work law. That in turn attracts business investment. Employers want to know unions will leave them alone if they treat their workers well. As a result, right-to-work states have lower unemployment rates—and more manufacturing jobs.

    Governor Snyder said:

    If you step back and look at it, we’re losing a major competitive advantage.

    Indiana has become a right to work state. I’ve looked at their pipeline, and they’ve significantly increased the number of businesses looking to come to Indiana and grow in Indiana due to this legislation.

    …It’s about being pro-worker. It’s about hard-working Michiganders having the freedom to choose who they associate with….The workers should have the ultimate decision should they belong or not.

    …It’s about the right thing for hard-working Michigan workers, and it’s the right thing for our economic growth.

    As Sherk puts it, “Why should workers have to pay into a union for representation they don’t want? Workers should have the freedom to decide how they spend their pay.”


    Right to Work Increases Jobs and Choices by James Sherk

    Quick Hits:

    • President Obama said yesterday that he “won’t compromise” on the fiscal cliff when it comes to raising taxes.
    • More than 150 companies “have declared special dividends totaling about $20 billion this quarter to avoid anticipated tax increases in 2013,” reports Bloomberg.
    • The Associated Press reports that a new fee has surfaced in the latest Health and Human Services regulations for Obamacare. Employers will have to pay $63 per employee per year into a fund to cover pre-existing conditions, mainly for patients in the individual insurance market.
    • Some Michigan schools are closed today after teachers unions called in sick to protest the right-to-work law.
    • What do you think about the filibuster? Should Senators have the right to speak at length against legislation? Join us at 11 a.m. ET for an event on this topic that you can watch online.
    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    54 Responses to Morning Bell: Unions Losing in Their Last Stronghold

    1. Darrell Russell says:

      This is typical union grand standing. They are the one that will lose if the state goes ahead with the legislation.
      The typical worker makes upwards of 60 to 65K per annum with bennifits. The upper end od the spectrm, the VPs and the Pre3sident along with support staff will lose 100s of thousands of dollars a year their saliers are in the $ 200K.
      The priogresives have ridden this horse to death and want to continue down the same failed path.

    2. Edward says:

      Having a "Right to Work" law in place also reduces the amount of available Union money to be spent in support of political candidates and will force those Unions to place their focus back on the basics: ensuring good working conditions and fair pay. Many supporters of "Right to work" will remain members of their respective Unions. The current administration does not support this specifically because the cash that was, up until now, available to contribute to their political campaigns (and largely derived from forced payment of dues) will no longer be available if the Unions are to survive for their created purpose.

    3. Pete says:

      Unions are a scourge to economic progress. They impose such onerous burdens on business and the public sector for healthcare and pensions. I believe that one of the strongest protests against this, is not to purchase union made products. I have decided that after a lifetime of buying "American" cars I will now purchase only cars made by non-union labor.

    4. fedupinky says:

      Of course Obama was in Detroit campaigning for the Unions. They are one of the Democratic Party's biggest money machines. As Union membership declines, so does the amount of money the Unions can shovel over to Democratic campaigns. I'll bet Trumpka (sp?) is having a raging fit today. Hope he's screaming in Obama's face for not getting the job done for the Unions. Wonder if Ohio is now going to follow Michigan's lead on this. Congratulations Michigan, be loud and be proud. You did the right thing.

    5. Gary Brunner says:

      I can support requiring an employee to contribute to the cost of a union negotiating pay, but not requiring contributions for political purposes which I may not agree with. Nor contributing to unions imposing work restrictions that keep me from performing my job. Plus, look at how the union bosses for the large unions are paid, many as much as a vice-president at a company. Again, not what I want to support. No one should have to belong to a union to have a job.

      • hwobstj says:

        Again, it should be the worker's choice to contribute for the service you state. It should not be required. Since when did we live in a system in which people should be forced to pay for their righ to work?

    6. Ken Jarvis says:

      It is NOT Unions that lose
      It is WORKERS
      When did the GOP ever help workers?

      • hwobstj says:

        That's patently untrue. I work in a very successful company that does not have union labor. The folks in my company make extremely competitive wages and receive excellent benefits. In fact, we've seen those benefits begin to get eroded with things like Obamacare, in which the unions have been by and large excempted (showing a lot more of their hypocricy). I'd still work at this company because of the lack of unions. The only thing unions have done for me lately (in the last 50 years that is) is to show me how parasitic they are. The union leaders are siphoning off hard worker's money and pumping it into a political system. My parents were required to be part of the teacher's union and they hated it. My grandfather was required to be part of the electrician union at his paper mill. He hated it. They're full of corruption and they've mostly outlived their usefulness.

      • Bobbie says:

        Giving employees freedom of choice they always had but not allowed to use at a company they want to work for because the company has a union by someone else's choice, is very commendable Mr. Jarvis. The unions don't have to play so dumb not to figure out who gets their union benefits and who doesn't. Employees pay union dues out of their first pay check yet they get no benefits until the end of a period (not sure if it's probation) but no dues should be required unless benefits initiate beneficially.

        Our neighbor worked for a union company at seven dollars an hour up to 8.50 (I think) for over three years and received nothing more than the company already provides without a union. That's just one hire. An awful lot of free money going into the pockets of violent and uncivilly behaving people forcing themselves between businesses and their employees begging to convince people of union need even though the need is minimal if any since the responsibility of the NLRB is to oversee working conditions. NO need to pay for a union. The NLRB IS ALREADY PAID!! You want big government? Why, when they can't take care of themselves? Proof is in their endorsement of unions!!!! and nobody in government or mainstream media is batting an eye to the verbal and profane threats of civil war and blood shed screaming out of the unions reps big mouths!! And you want big government?

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      It's real simple Amy. Workers pay dues so that those dues go to pay for a president and Congress.

    8. There is hope. But beware of the violent backlash. These goons won't give up their booty without a nasty fight. Mark my words…

      • Mike Reilly says:

        You're right. They still have fat wallets and won't hesitate to use the cash any way they can to preserve their power. You know the workers will accept only a reduction in pay to match the net they were taking home. Eliminating the dues goes a long way to help, and should allow the company overhead to reduce substantially the cost of production, hence the boost in business, then more job opportunities. Let's see what comes.

    9. PaulE says:

      While private sector unions are indeed losing a significant amount of their appeal to most workers, simply due to the fact that their workers receive little in the way of long-term advantages for the union fees extracted from their paychecks, the public sector unions are another matter. Most private sector workers today recognize that demanding pay and benefit packages that make a business uncompetitive in the global economy in which we live, does nothing to enhance their long-term employment prospects and thus job security. In reality, such demands quickly lead to those jobs either being eliminated or moved elsewhere in order to maintain the viability of the business' profitability and ability to expand. In short, most people in the private sector understand the need to maintain a competitive business environment for jobs to be created and maintained.

      The public sector is another story. The notion of delivering goods and services, such as they are from the government, in the most cost effect way is a non-existent concept. At least at the federal level. State and local government try a lot harder in this area, simply because they have to live within a budget and cannot simply print more money or arbitrarily raise taxes to paper over the problem. Still there is always room for improvement at the state and local levels to eliminate the influence of vote buying the unions hold over the elected officials.

      The federal level is out of control, because there is no real accountability. Budgets are merely viewed as "guidelines", that can be circumvented almost at will. We've seen an example of that for the last three years courtesy of the Senate simply refusing to pass a viable budget. What we get are continuing resolutions, which are essentially a blank check for spending. In this environment, we've seen an increase of unionized federal workers.

      • hwobstj says:

        Really? And every autoworker in Detroit would be without a job today save for the Billions bilked out of the rest of the American taxpayers. The Unions are to blame for the billions of dollars they've shoved down the sewer resulting in a system of bloated pensions (for which I'm going to be responsible for picking up a part of the tab), etc. I don't think auto unions are helping me out in the private sector when scumbags like our POTUS are bailing them out at a loss to every other American's hard earned money.

        • PaulE says:

          I'm not advocating that the Obama bailout of the auto unions was a good idea. How did you get that from my post above? Far from it. The Obama decision to bail out the two Detroit automakers was a case where the Democrat Party, via control of both Congress and the White House, decided to use taxpayer money to bail out out one of its biggest sources of campaign donations, the UAW. Both GM and Chrysler should have put through managed bankruptcy. The union contracts would have been voided, the companies would have been significantly downsized or their assets would have been sold off to competitors for pennies on the dollar. Just like what happens in every other bankruptcy case. That is what happens to companies when their business model no longer allows them to be competitive and profitable in the marketplace.

          The auto workers, depending on whether the two companies either reorganized or had their assets sold outright to competitors, would have either had to accept lower market-based salaries and benefits reflective of the rest of the industry in the United States or indeed they would have faced unemployment. That however would have been THEIR choice and neither one of us or the U.S. taxpayers in general would have been on the hook for billions of dollars we're never going to get back.

          None of the competitors to GM and Chrysler would have likely agreed to a union as part of any purchase of the companies. The market realities of the auto industry, from a global perspective, would never support the bloated salaries and benefit packages that the UAW managed to extract from GM and Chrysler over decades.

    10. Fred Closs says:

      Unions have held companies "Hostage" far too long. Granted, it behooves a company to collectively bargain with it's employees on a large scale, but worker rights are now covered by so many varied Federal Agencies, that unions and their exorbitant costs and practices are no longer needed. Consider this, how much do union dues and strikes cost the rank and file of a union? How much do they cost the company? The consumer? You?

    11. Tim Lee says:

      as long as a company treats it's employees with respect @ dignity……there is no point to having a union steal money from hard working people. with all the tax increases, the extra union due money staying in the paycheck will help buy food for the working class.

    12. Thomas Domenz says:

      Dont the union workers wonder where those $23 million came from? I'd be pissed if it was my $.

      Michigan voters rejected a ballot proposal that would have amended the state constitution to prevent the legislature from passing a right-to-work law and elevated union contracts above state law. The New York Times called it “a test case on enshrining the rights of unions,” and unions spent more than $23 million campaigning for the initiative. It lost by 15 points.

    13. John Detwiler says:

      Next, I look forward to the day when the Public Workers Unions are decertified. Public worker should not have a Union. They are working for the public and the public has no voice in their contract demands. For instance Government (SEIU) earn an average of 32 thousand dollars more than their non government workers earn. This is ridiculous. It is an example of the powers that be giving them what they demand for their vote.

    14. Jim says:

      Although not altogether a Repub or Dem issue, a Repub or right to work state advocate needs to get out the word to counter Prezbo that right to work is worker focused and not union focused. and to let all know that members leave unions is droves when they can. Unions have no need to assist their members since they are a captive group.

    15. Lee Wrenn says:

      The sign in the picture is wrong – PEOPLE built Detroit, unions KILLED it!

    16. Coleen McDonald says:

      Thank goodness for our Michigan Republican Congress and for Gov. Synder. Michigan has lost out on 90 businesses from bringing jobs to Michigan. The greedy unions have almost destroyed our great state.Its time for the hemorrhaging to stop and growth to begin again. Coleen McDonald,RN Troy,MI

    17. Ann Barnes says:

      Should not President Obama be called on his FALSE statements? Why should an American President be above the law, misleading the voters who look to him for leadership.

      • Tom A. says:

        Obama's statement was a payback for the support from the union leadership in getting him re-elected. Because the leadership supported him does not necessarily mean the rank and file do also. But, Obama's statement was guilty of what he was attacking: it was political. Add to this that he won't be called out because the press will not challenge him. The press created this false god. As much as I would like to believe that the people see through this false idol, they did make the mistake of electing him twice. Will four more years wake them up? I doubt it. Remember, Hillary is warming up in the bullpen. More to follow!

    18. Jeff says:

      As a Manufacturing refugee I have seen the right to work policy attract manufacturing to the Southeast, and watched the once great state of Michigan evaporate therein. Michigan cannot compete with other states unless this bill is passed. I find it comical that the Michigan Teachers are striking, when most of them drive non domestic (non union) automobiles because of the added expense incurred at the hand of the unions. Until our Federal Government opens up Asian markets (trade barriers) no significant change will occur. Please bear in mind the profits generated by non domestics (5x the domestics) fund the federal government through corporate tax revenue provide a sincere disincentive for this administration to open the non multi cultural markets, closed markets…reference South Korea and Japan…These companies are laughing at Americans.

      Mr. Obama threw the UAW members under the bus during the bailout stating "you must make the same wage as a toyota workerr". When you make the same low wage and still have to pay union dues, you are shooting yourself in the foot union members…..wake up…

    19. Bruno says:

      Yahoo!!! Score a big one for the defeat of the union mandates in Michigan. It's about time that the unions got their comeuppance, especially in the motor city.

    20. Steve says:

      Maybe this will force the unions to do their real job, representing their members. Instead of spending their members money to increase their leaderships power base, supporting socialist political policies, and buying influence with political candidates.
      This will also allow the rank and file to keep more of their paycheck and spend it on causes that they support, or just on their own families.

    21. oyharward says:

      Labor Union leaders believe:__All “employee/workers” should, as a right to work, be forced to become and remain Labor Union members

    22. piggyunionsoinkoink says:

      being forced to join & pay union dues to work in any state without "right to work bills" is ludicrous, why would any sane individual pay union monthly dues to have a job? These dues are suppose to protect your wages but are used in all manners of unethical agendas, and are used for lavish parties & political agendas that you…yourself do not agree with??? What a quagmire, time for the union big wigs to get the hell out of the way of real working citizens in America…no union dues, no unions, i have always negotiated my own salary, have never needed union thugs to do it for me!!!

    23. cowboybobmt says:

      while this is great news for the private sector, it would seem much ado about virtually nothing at this point in history. The public employee unions are completely overwhelming the system and will continue to do so in the most liberal states…and the problem ultimately will be that any state that somehow manages to get it under semi-control will pay through the nose anyway as the other states fall into bankruptcy knowing that Lord O and his lackeys will bail them out. This is all a grand play for the ultimate destruction of state sovereignty…what little is left.

    24. Warren Norcom says:

      A very good article. However, you carefully tiptoed around two flagrant characteristics of the vast majority of unions.

      1. It's notorious, when you give unethical characters the control over millions of dollars of other people's money, how they have a propensity to dip their fingers in the pot and live high off the hog. Not only that but they will go to any length to make sure it stays that way. That's why mafia characters love unions. Sure, they negotiate for higher wages and working conditions and use any and all dirty tricks to get them. Of course, the workers the workers are happy, but the trade off is that they knowingly support the mafia.

      2. Supply and demand and free economic principles go out the window when unions are involved. I have heard of car factory workers getting obscene hourly wages and benefits, way beyond the norm for the rest of the national working force. Why should they be privileged above other blue collar workers?

      3. What right do unions have in forcing workers to join them against their will? Is that a free society? Workers should have the right to collectively bargain when they feel they are being unjustly treated by their employers. And they should also have the right to strike as a bargaining tool. But those tools should be used by voluntary representation and not by coercion by some union crook ripping them off.

    25. Al Connellyl says:

      Obama's remarks reflect the fact he and the Democrats depend on the Unions for support during elections. He could care less about the rights of anyone as long as he can continue the socialization of America. Juan and Eva Peron depended heavily on unionization to assist them in destroying Argentina's democracy and replacing it with socialism, Obama obviously believes that is a good model for achieving his agenda.

    26. duane hardesty says:

      It will also save the Michigan taxpayers billions in taxpayer funded contracts. It will allow non-union contractors the "RIGHT" to bid and win state contracts. Experience shows time and again that non-union contractors can do the same job for less and on time. The next step is to eliminate the "public sector" unions. No person whose salary is paid by taxpayers should be in a labor union. If they want to be in labor unions; they can go to private sector.

    27. Pennsyltuckian says:

      What these morons who support the unions forget is my right to work without having to pay tribute to union thugs. I am not a union member in PA but am forced to pay 1% of my salary to the union to keep my job. The union doesn't represent my views but I have to support them anyway.

    28. Bobbie says:

      The President is contradicting again. Forced union dues make less the paycheck NOW! People shouldn't need a union to exercise peoples' right to bargain for better wages and working conditions. People need a healthy esteem to know it''s in their freedom to do that on their own if there's no mention of it at the time of interview. That's all unions are is politics. Twister. Obama's words of "so called right to work laws" gives people the freedom of choice that appears unions and the President are attempting to remove. Unions constrict potential.it. Unions don't want you to move because they don't want to lose your union dues as they protect employed liabilities over the ethical collecting dues from both, negotiating irrational pay that isn't worth the job. It's too bad America was led to fight for a freedom of choice and fight for the right to work without a union…

    29. Lee Cox says:

      Just after graduating high school, I took a job at Gabbs, NV. You had to belong to the Operating Engineers Union. The Union Headquarters was in San Francisco. The shop steward came around every month and collected dues, either in cash, or you could pay by money order. In those days, money orders were filled in by the buyer, so I would buy a money order for the amount of the dues, give one receipt to the steward, he would check me off as current; I would cash the money order I had made out to my self, and voila, I beat them at their own game. This was an example of the union collecting your money, and providing nothing!!

    30. toledofan says:

      Well ,one thing is for sure, in most places that are run by the Democrats, nothing short of major economic problems exist and Michigan is a classic example, especially Detroit. Just think if Ford, Rockerfeffer, or Vanderbuilt were alive today and the disguist they would have with what has happen to this part of the country? The unions had a place in our history but the problem is that the unions haven't changed with the times. Rather than work with management and develop methods for the business to stay competitive, they just kept demanding for more. It's just like todays entitlements, when the money runs out and we have to borrow just to sustain them, you go broke. Anyone who wants to work should be able to and if you want to be a part of a union that's you're choice as well. We can only hope the politicans don't get cold feet and walk away.

    31. Bill says:

      "last stronghold"….I guess you haven't heard of Massachusetts. Public & service unions run/own the (Democrat) government here….
      Or you could say, the entire North East!

    32. Bill Stanley says:

      In 2011, union membership was only 6.9% in the private sector. The unions’ only strength resides in the government sector: 28.1% federal, 31.5% state and 43.2%. (Dept. of Labor) newsandopinions dot net

    33. chyatt says:

      The statistics are interesting. The article states that 51% of the people support RTW. This is a far smaller percentage than those who did not support the AHC Act. Yet it still passed. It is interesting that such a small fraction of support is promoted when compared to the overwhelming opposition to AHC.

    34. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      The high watermark for private sector unions was the 1950s. In 1950, about half all workers were in unions. By
      1980, it was down to 15%. Today, it's 12%. Michigan just voted to become a right-to-work state. Despite what
      Obama and his union thugs say, the right to work isn't the right to shirk. Unions are corrupt, and either mobbed up, or commied up.

    35. Hugh, Oregon says:

      This is a fact, “Right-to-work laws prevent unions from imposing mandatory fees, giving employees the right to work without paying union dues. Otherwise, right-to-work has no effect on collective bargaining. All other negotiations continue as before.” This is the democrat and union, primarily public, BS from the mouth of Obama “What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. We shouldn’t be doing that. 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.” Public employee unions in particular have everything to do with democrat politics and power over the taxpayers they depend on for their substance. I have few complaints against private unions, because they are producers and many of them came into existence due to management abuse. Most private employers today take care of their most valuable asset, employees, thus lessening or eliminating the need for unions. All public employee unions should be outlawed.

    36. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Your new Boss…DeMint belonged to the most private union in the world…U.S. Senate…He never took a pay cut, poor health care, lost perks…

    37. Albert says:

      You don't need a union if the companies treat there employes right,the unions bergened them right out of a job.
      And what is Obama getting his nose into something where it doesn't belong, did he ever belong to a union?

    38. Craig says:

      Union members attacked Steven Crowder today – further supporting the idea that they are just a bunch of thugs.

    39. Isir Abelon says:

      Yes, Yes. No Unions. Watch and see how the Union Bosses foreclosed their Homes, Give away their Jets, and their big Yachts. They Bankrupts a lot a companies with their greeds.

    40. Brian says:

      Now, if only we could get SS to become voluntary….

    41. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      'These so-called “right to work” laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.'

      No, Mr. President. They have everything to do with freedom, a concept as foreign to you as any can be.

    42. HillSlider says:

      FINALLY! The union's attitude of Union Union Uber Alles has come back to bite them BIG time. If they had truly cared about their members, cared about the companies they worked at and cared about the country, this wouldn't have happened.

    43. Alfrom Fl says:

      I have seen mgmt tactics that were ove the top when they had the power and now we see what happens when unions do the same. I have no problem with the concept of a union – they did good things for the workers years ago. Two sides, negotiating in good faith, with the good of the community in mind is OK. That's not the case today, especially in the public sector. I am against public sector unions – they are unfair to the taxpayer and the results have been devastating both fiscally and in operational results – the teacher's union comes to mind regarding the union gain vs the good of the students. Today's union leaders (public and private) as well as the democrats, at the federal level, are out to get as much money and power as they can without any concern for the consequences – end justifies the means.

    44. Jim says:

      Three cheers for Michigan. Long overdue. Unions are the closest thing to communism in the United States. Why the members don't see how they are manipulated and enslaved is mind numbing to me.
      I wonder if members ever look at the money they pay out versus the hourly wage increase they get on some occasions? Putting the dues in a bank account instead of the unions where they have no real voice, but instead are given the "talking points" would be far greater in the years ahead instead of having nothing to fall back on. Hopefully more states will push for the right to work concept.

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