Here are few things to know about the Right to Work ("RTW") legislation, the vote in the Indiana General Assembly for which has been held off for several days (before the inevitable, it would seem, passage):
1) Compulsory union membership is not an issue.
NLRB v. GM, 373 U.S. 734 (1963) held that people cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. However, employees can be compelled to pay toward the costs of negotiations on wages and benefits. Employees cannot be compelled to pay dues.
2) Workers do not benefit from this legislation.
First, as I explained in a previous blog, the argument that RTW benefits workers operates on the same premises as any other aspect of "trickle-down" economics. Somehow, because businesses are given breaks, the rest of us will benefit. In RTW, businesses get breaks and, somehow, workers will receive higher. That makes no sense. If the dynamic of RTW is to give businesses the opportunity to hire workers for lower wages, why would wages ever increase? Second, a study by the Economic Policy Institute indicates wages in RTW states are 3.2% lower than in non-RTW states. The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance is 2.6% lower. The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is 4.8% lower.
3) Paul Ogden’s accusation yesterday that I rambled by including Vietnam and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., in a discussion of RTW is incorrect.
Vietnam is relevant to the subject because the corporations that now thrive under Citizens United-borne election rules would love for American workers to subsist on the same incomes as the workers in Vietnam. Manufacturing jobs are going to countries like Vietnam where wages are low, rights are few, and defective goods are manufactured for a cheap price.
Vonnegut wrote Player Piano, in which the need for people in the workplace has been taken by machines. The wealthy top few percent—okay, let’s say one percent to keep it current—thrive while the masses are employed as street sweepers, grounds keepers, and other occupations that require few skills and provide little income.
One local commentator says he is comfortable with RTW and that most people in Indiana have been shown, by a Ball State poll, not to care about RTW. I am glad that he is comfortable with RTW. I am happy for him. That a large percentage of Hoosier do not care about RTW does not surprise me. A lot of people are too busy working to survive to receive much information about the laws now before the General Assembly.
Once more, I would remind the reader that next Saturday’s Show will discuss the RTW legislation before the General Assembly. We also will discuss the effect of the end of collective bargaining rights for Indiana public employees since Governor Daniels with the stroke of a pen ended collective bargaining for Indiana public employees on his first day in office in 2005. How could he do that when Governor Scott Walker had to go through the Wisconsin legislature to try to do the same? Governor Evan Bayh enabled the Governor of Indiana to do just that.
The Show is at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell in Broad Ripple, directly across from the Monon Trail and just north of 65th Street. We start at 11 a.m. Come and be a part of the audience. We will announce or guest panelists.