Skip to comments.Embrace proven job creator
Posted on 12/25/2012 5:52:37 PM PST by Graybeard58
The right-to-work movement that has swallowed up Michigan, heretofore the state that seemed least likely to enact legislation that could be construed as anti-union, has evoked a see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil reaction in staunchly pro-union Connecticut. But the facts don't lie. Right-to-work is the key to curing much of what ails the Nutmeg State's economy, and it belongs on lawmakers' radar screen.
The strongest argument for right-to-work is that it is a job creator. The strongest argument against it is that those jobs don't pay as well as comparable jobs in the 26 states that have not passed such legislation. Experience and scholarly research suggest the first is undeniably true, while the second is irrelevant.
"(P)rivate employment has grown 4.9 percent in right-to-work states over the past three years, vs. 3.9 percent in other states," The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 14, citing U.S. Department of Labor data. Population shifts also suggest Americans are voluntarily moving to right-to-work states to find jobs. Miami Herald columnist Glenn Garvin observed: "According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, between 2000 and 2009, more than 5 million people moved into states with right-to-work laws from those that don't have them. Of the 22 states with right-to-work protection during that period ... , 73 percent gained population from inter-U.S. migration."
But what of the central argument used by right-to-work foes, who say workers in places like Georgia and Texas earn lower wages than those in Connecticut and Ohio? This, too, appears to be true. "In the Midwest, for example," reported the Journal's Neil Shah and Ben Casselman, "where unions have historically been powerful, employers pay an average of $28.15 per worker per hour factoring in both wages and benefits while in the South, the average is $26.32 an hour." Factory workers in pre-right-to-work Michigan average $1,011 a week, compared with $866 in South Carolina.
But compensation is not a zero-sum game. If you work in San Francisco, you either pay through the nose for your home or apartment by the Bay, or you live many miles outside the city and pay extravagant commuting costs. If you live in West Point, Ga., and work at the new Kia automotive plant, the right-to-work wage penalty is more than compensated by the region's lower cost of living.
Economics professor James T. Bennett of George Mason University performed a study during the 1990s that found a two-income household in a right-to-work state enjoyed $2,000 more in after-tax purchasing power than comparable households in non-right-to-work states. A study by Barry Poulson of the University of Colorado reached a similar conclusion in 2005.
One reason for this disparity is that the relative weakness of public-employee unions in right-to-work states keeps taxes low. Housing prices are lower, as are energy costs. Working people are doing the math and voting with their feet, as the Census population data demonstrate.
Apart from the practical justifications for right-to-work legislation stands a moral imperative: Workers should not be forced to pay union dues if their union supports causes and political candidates they oppose. It can be argued they should be obligated to support a union that advocates for their pay, benefits and working conditions. But there is a middle ground under federal law: Workers can choose to pay the cost of collective bargaining, but cannot be forced to subsidize political or issue advocacy.
What does all of this mean to Connecticut? Not much, if voters continue populating the state House and Senate with Democrats who are little more than loyal operatives of Big Labor; and if residents are actually content with the status quo of high unemployment, high taxes, and stagnant economic and population growth.
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Collective bargaining isn’t a “right.”
It’s a violation (intrusion into) others’ rights.
Bump. Great editorial.