Sunday, December 09, 2012

"Right to work" isn't right and doesn't work

If you're appalled by union-busting in Michigan, go here...
The real motive of Michigan's right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is "pure greed" -- the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party's most reliable source of financial and organizational support.
The argument that right-to-work status makes states more competitive or prosperous is refuted by a mountain of evidence that shows right-to-work states trailing their union-friendly counterparts in key metrics like per capita wealth, poverty rates and health insurance coverage.
Precisely. Libertarian philosophy is the continual triumph of ideology over lived experience and empirical data. If "right to work" worked, why don't we see a lot of firms like Apple computers set up shop in Alabama? Why aren't the red states more prosperous than the blue states?

Consider: Unionization helps to place workers in health insurance programs. Non-insured workers rely on emergency room treatment, which the government pays for. Thus, strong unions result in smaller government.

Germany is heavily unionized. In that country, union reps help to run major corporations. While nobody in Europe is sitting pretty right now (thanks, in large part, to continuing fall-out from the Wall Street-induced banking crisis), the Germans sit prettier than most others.

Folks in Michigan should contemplate one fact very carefully: Germany builds twice as many cars as the U.S. even though German workers earn twice the pay of American workers.
In 2010, Germany produced more than 5.5 million automobiles; the U.S produced 2.7 million. At the same time, the average auto worker in Germany made $67.14 per hour in salary in benefits; the average one in the U.S. made $33.77 per hour. Yet Germany’s big three car companies—BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), and Volkswagen—are very profitable.
There are “two overlapping sets of institutions” in Germany that guarantee high wages and good working conditions for autoworkers. The first is IG Metall, the country’s equivalent of the United Automobile Workers. Virtually all Germany’s car workers are members, and though they have the right to strike, they “hardly use it, because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to some sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties,” according to Horst Mund, an IG Metall executive. The second institution is the German constitution, which allows for “works councils” in every factory, where management and employees work together on matters like shop floor conditions and work life.
Mund points out that this goes
against all mainstream wisdom of the neo-liberals. We have strong unions, we have strong social security systems, we have high wages. So, if I believed what the neo-liberals are arguing, we would have to be bankrupt, but apparently this is not the case. Despite high wages . . . despite our possibility to influence companies, the economy is working well in Germany.
When German companies set up shop in union-unfriendly areas of the U.S. -- there's a BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina -- capitalism immediately goes back to its neo-liberal ways. Both wages and profits spiral down. Worse, workers are more reliant on welfare -- on government -- when local government offers subsidies and breaks to lure in corproations.

That outcome may seem counter-intuitive to those raised on neo-liberal orthodoxy, but facts are facts. Business thrives when workers are paid well, and they are paid well only when they have clout.


Anonymous said...

'Right to Work' is a total misnomer. It should be labeled "Right to be Fired Without Cause and Make Lousy Wages. And oh BTW, You Have Absolutely No Protection from Employer Excesses.

But Have a Nice Day!

That doesn't mean Unions are perfect; they're not. But not to have bargaining rights, a place at the table is a quick step to neo-fuedalism. And that's exactly what many of these corporations want and demand.

Strange how there's now a willingness to bring jobs 'on-shore' as we reduce the workforce's ability to negotiate wages and benefits. Coincidence?

I don't think so.

As far as I'm concerned, the tide changed when 'personnel departments' were made obsolete. Workers then became 'human resources.' That's about a half-step up from dirt.

This is going to get ugly!


affinis said...

A pretty good article on Alternet - Call Michigan's Job-Killing Anti-Worker Law What It Is: The Right To Rip Off Unions.

Grung_e_Gene said...

It does Work. It undercuts Workers power and destroys Unions. Exactly as it is designed to do.

Mr. Mike said...

Speaking of unintended consequences. This can be traced back to the Democratic party invalidating Michigan's 2008 primary results until the RBC stole the delegates and gave them to Obama. Barack's poor performance allowed republicans to gain enough control to ram this thru the Michigan state legislature. Karma.