Michigan’s “Right to Work” debate has drawn attention to the whole idea of unions and where they fit in. Unsurprisingly, I’m a supporter of right to work laws. I’m also not a fan of unions as they are currently structured. However, whether you are a fan or not doesn’t matter. Anyone who values ideas like freedom should support right to work laws.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, “right to work” laws do not outlaw unions. What they do is prevent a union from structuring things in such a way that workers have no choice but to join a union. Unions claim these laws undermine their ability to collectively bargain. I am certainly sympathetic to that, but not nearly enough to trump my reservations about what happens without these laws.
You see, union membership is never free. Unions have employees who have to be paid, so they charge dues. Dues aren’t unusual. Most groups have some form of dues. However, unions in non right to work states are basically telling people if they want to be employed, they must give over a portion of their paycheck to the unions. There’s no choice in the matter. If you want to work in those businesses, you have to pay.
Now, if someone told me that I had to pay to be employed, I’d consider that a crime. They’re blocking my ability to earn a wage and support my family. If it was a criminal organization, the FBI would be all over it with an investigation and probably very public arrests. However, unions have been sacrosanct for quite some time. As fellow United Liberty contributor Jeremy Kolassa put it:
Back in 2010, Tea Party protesters were accused of using racial slurs at African-American members of Congress — including Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights-era hero. No proof of this was ever provided, of course. Yet, the accusation lived on in the media, with no actual video recording of the incident, despite a $10,000 reward offered by Andrew Breitbart.
So today, I saw this tweet on my feed:
BREAKING: Video evidence of Tea Partiers using racial epithets against Black Congressman: washingtonexaminer.com/article/251574…
— Miké (@ThePantau) December 12, 2012
Please click on the link and read through.
It appears that a hot dog vendor, Clint Tarver, who is an African-American, was hired to provide food to Americans for Prosperity — the same group who had their tent torn down by pro-union protesters in Lansing, Michigan yesterday. Apparently, these rabid union thugs weren’t too happy about this:
After destroying the Americans for Prosperity tent, where Tarver was catering hotdogs, the mob turned there attention to the hot dog cart.
With nearly 100% of the precincts reporting this morning, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has survived the recall challenge, which engineered by Big Labor and state Democrats, against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a healthy margin.
- Walker (R): 53.2
- Barrett (D): 46.3%
- Trivedi (I): 0.6%
Some are saying that the race, given that Walker won by nearly 7 points, could put the state on the board this fall in the presidential election. There is certainly a measure of optimism for Republicans since this recall had such heavy implications. However, Republicans should be too hopeful since exit polling showed President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by 9 points.
The New York Times notes that, while outside spending was heavy in Wisconsin during the course of the race, nine out of every 10 voters had their minds made up by May 1st. Money is great if its on your side, but at some point voters probably started turning off their televisions because they were tired of seeing the flood of ads.
The protests in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal that would require public-sector workers to pay more for benefits and pensions, though they’ll still be better off than private-sector workers, and reforms that would limit collective bargaining by public-sector unions are still receiving an incredible amount of attention.
In case you haven’t seen it, here is video a speech Gov. Walker gave last night explaining the reasons for the proposal. You can read the transcript here:
Walker, who has been falsely accused of favoring certain public-sector unions, has warned that unless the measures are passed to help ensure that the $3 billion budget deficit over the next two years can be cut, 6,000 public workers could lose their jobs.
Unions. Once upon a time, they helped shape the American industrial landscape by increasing pay to reasonable levels and increasing safe working conditions. They can do a lot of good, but these days they don’t. In this case, they managed to run 1,000 jobs off. The people of Mississippi thank the Machinist Union for their help.
The Olin Corporation made two contract offers to the union. They turned them both down, with at least the second one having been voted on with the knowledge that Olin was at least considering a move. Many union members assumed it was a bluff. Apparently, they were wrong.
Joseph Rupp, the chairman, president and CEO of Clayton-based Olin, pointed the finger at the workers’ failure to accept a contract that guaranteed seven years of job security in exchange for reductions in vacation time, an elimination of a matching company contribution to retirement plans and other incentives.
“While I am disappointed that employees … chose to reject a proposal that would have allowed us to remain competitive in East Alton, we look forward to expanding our existing operations in Mississippi,” Rupp said in a prepared statement.
Seven years of job security? Talk about a sweet deal. Apparently though, they didn’t like the idea of the loss of monetary incentives instead. That was their right. Unfortunately, this is the result. POOF! No more job.
Of course, the union is arguing that Olin is wrong from the start:
The Machinists claim Olin’s bid to renegotiate their contract violated the terms of the three-year agreement it reached with the union in 2008.
It seemed like the Twinkie was done for at the end of the last year. Due to high-labor costs and a union unwilling to make concessions to end a strike, Hostess was forced to liquidate its assets, including the spongy, creme-filled snack. But the Wall Street Journal notes that the Twinkie and other sweet snacks will be make a comeback July — and labor unions won’t have any influence:
The company that bought the Twinkie, HoHo and Ding Dong brands out of bankruptcy is gearing up to reopen plants and hire workers, but it won’t be using union labor.
Hostess Brands LLC—Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC’s APO +3.00% new incarnation of the baking company that liquidated in Chapter 11—is reopening four bakeries in the next eight to 10 weeks, aiming to get Twinkie-deprived consumers the classic snack cake starting in July.
Chief Executive C. Dean Metropoulos said the company will pump $60 million in capital investments into the plants between now and September and aims to hire at least 1,500 workers. But they won’t be represented by unions, including the one whose nationwide strike sparked the 86-year-old company’s decision to shut down in November.
Metropoulos and Apollo, the company that bought Hostess, is opening up bakeries in couple of right-to-work states, including Georgia and Kansas. Illinois and Indiana — neither of which are right-to-work states — will also get bakeries as well. All told, Metropoulos and Apollo will employ some 1,500 workers in the four plants.
This is ironic since labor unions have been among President Barack Obama’s biggest supporters, often unquestionably supporting his policy proposals. However, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, which has 22,000 members, is now pushing for repeal of ObamaCare, the administration signature domestic law:
A labor union representing roofers is reversing course and calling for repeal of the federal health law, citing concerns the law will raise its cost for insuring members.
Organized labor was instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, but more recently has voiced concerns that the law could lead members to lose their existing health plans. The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers is believed to be the first union to initially support the law and later call for its repeal.
Like many unions, the roofers insure members through a so-called multiemployer health insurance plan that’s jointly managed by employers and the union. Mr. Robinson says the union’s concerns about the law began to pile up in recent months after speaking with employers.
The roofers’ union’s current insurance plan caps lifetime medical bill payouts at $2 million for active members and $50,000 for retirees. Next year, the plan has to remove those caps in order to comply with the health law. Other aspects of the retiree plan must become more generous in order to meet the law’s minimum essential coverage requirements next year. All that will increase the cost of insuring members, Mr. Robinson said, and has prompted the union to weigh eliminating the retiree plan.
Written by Walter Olson, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The U.S. Department of Labor claimed the authority to issue rules governing the H-2B guest worker program on the grounds that the underlying statute provides for it to be consulted as part of the program’s administration. On Monday, the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals curtly rebuffed this “absurd” claim. From its opinion:
In its proposed and final rules, DOL cited two statutory provisions as the source of its rulemaking authority. First, DOL cited 8 U.S.C. § 1184(c)(1), which instructs the Secretary of DHS to consult with the “appropriate agencies of the Government” in resolving whether to grant a foreign worker a visa upon the “petition of the importing employer.” Although there is no grant of rulemaking authority to DOL in this statutory section, DOL asserts that as the result of the permission it grants to DHS to consult with it, DOL “has authority to issue legislative rules to structure its consultation with DHS.” The end result, in DOL’s view, is that it is empowered to engage in rulemaking, even without the DHS.
We reject this interpretation of “consultation.” Under this theory of consultation, any federal employee with whom the Secretary of DHS deigns to consult would then have the “authority to issue legislative rules to structure [his] consultation with DHS.” This is an absurd reading of the statute and we decline to adopt it.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), who took on labor unions by reforming collective bargaining laws and in a subsequent recall election, spoke this morning at CPAC 2013 where he rallied the crowd by giving an empassioned defense of conservatism. Gov. Walker, who is thought to be a potential candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016, also went on the offense against President Barack Obama’s economic policies, including ObamaCare.
Based on what I heard this morning, both in his speech and from attendees walking around, Gov. Walker not only delivered one of the best speeches of the weekend, but sounded very Reagan-esque.
You can watch Gov. Walker’s speech below:
“So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment.” - Paul Krugman (1998)
During the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour. This policy is one that is frequently pushed by the political left.
Because Democrats, who had complete control of Congress, were hesistant to continue funding military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, President George W. Bush agreed to an increase in the minimum wage to attract their votes. For Democrats, the minimum wage is a path to their ultimate goal of a so-called “living wage.” Labor unions, however, push the issue because many of their contracts are indexed to the minimum wage.
President Obama’s latest gimmick may sound good, but ultimately raising the minimum wage has the opposite of the intended effect. Looking at the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 5.2% of workers make at or below the minimum wage. That number is up some from recent years, which is due to lingering economic stagnation. Of that 5.2% of workers, 49.5% are between the ages of 16 and 24 — nearly one in four are between 16 and 19.