Wanted to point out a couple of articles that outline the conservative assault on private sector unions. Three reliable Republican mouthpieces: Fox News, the WSJ and CATO. The WSJ article is particularly helpful because it lists the targeted states.
Along with requiring public employees to contribute more to pensions and health care coverage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to put his state in the right-to-work column. His proposals have touched off an epic battle in Madison between pro-labor Democrats and Republicans who say they’re just trying to balance the budget. And now that battle is spreading.
A long-run solution requires a change in structure, for example, by restricting collective bargaining for public employees and, to go further, by introducing a right-to-work law. There is evidence that right-to-work laws—or, more broadly, the pro-business policies offered by right-to-work states—matter for economic growth. In research published in 2000, economist Thomas Holmes of the University of Minnesota compared counties close to the border between states with and without right-to-work laws (thereby holding constant an array of factors related to geography and climate). He found that the cumulative growth of employment in manufacturing (the traditional area of union strength prior to the rise of public-employee unions) in the right-to-work states was 26 percentage points greater than that in the non-right-to-work states.
In general, the most likely arenas are states in which the governor and both houses of the state legislature are Republican (often because of the 2010 elections), and in which substantial rights for collective bargaining by public employees currently exist. This group includes Indiana, which has recently been as active as Wisconsin on labor issues; ironically, Indiana enacted a right-to-work law in 1957 but repealed it in 1965. Otherwise, my tentative list includes Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska (with a nominally nonpartisan legislature), Kansas, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Right-to-work advocates say states with those laws on the books are more conducive to economic growth. A recent report in the libertarian Cato Institute’s Cato Journal written by Ohio University economics Prof. Richard Vedder found that about 4.7 million Americans moved to right-to-work states between 2000 and 2008. The article said pay is higher in non-right-to-work states — but, employing an economic model, Vedder estimated that right-to-work states saw economic growth increase 23 percent faster between 1977 and 2007 than non-right-to-work states. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, in an interview with Fox News on Monday, directly attributed Virginia’s ease in balancing its budget to the fact that it is a right-to-work state.
If you’d like to see what private sector unions are doing to support public sector unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, I suggest you go right to the source, as we’re not hearing any voices of labor leaders in media. I thought it was amusing that advocates had to mount a targeted campaign to push for a single labor leader to appear and speak on a cable news show, to counter the parade of conservative governors and pundits.
Steelworkers. United Auto Workers. Teamsters. Service Employees International Union members.
The SEIU site is particularly informative on local events, and will have a live feed from the Ohio statehouse today.
Too, you can always look at photos from the events and see which unions and locals are represented.
I followed the events at the Wisconsin statehouse Sunday night on Talking Points Memo, on my phone. It was completely fascinating reading about the negotiations between union members and police agencies, in real time. I’m grateful that TPM covered it.
Finally, how great is it that conservatives and media invented yet another caricature in the long series of reliable scapegoat-groups, this one labeled “union workers” and pushed Americans to line up and to take a swing, and (so far, anyway) the public seem to be resisting picking up the proffered (rhetorical) stick?
I have watched this happen in real time at work. There are a couple of Sarah Palin fans in my office who are currently singing the “Look for the Union Label” song, metaphorically speaking. As state-related university employees, they have finally seen that the wolf has come to their door and doesn’t seem to be inclined to separate them from the DFHs they so detested back in November.
Why do we cede ground linguistically to people? Anti-union people call states where they’ve quashed union activity “right-to-work” states. Why is this reported uncritically as though it’s just what it’s called?
I think the best current example is “taxpayers versus union members”.
I mean, that one is not even remotely true. Union members are, of course, taxpayers.
If I tried a spun statement like that in a county court I’d get called on it. Anderson Cooper just repeats it, without any recognition that it’s on-its-face NOT TRUE, as a simple factual matter.
But lawyers lie all the time. Amirite?
The aholes at Cato get really pissed when it’s mistyped CATO.
Mike Kay (Chief of Staff)
@kay: AC is an airhead. He puts absolutely no effort into his show. He just reads what ever is on the teleprompter.
It’s a complete night and day difference btwn him and Maddow, who spends all day with her staff researching and writing the stories.
I imagine after the unions have been significantly weakened they will go after Minimum Wage Laws. We need to be more competitive with India and Mexico will be the rallying cry and we can’t do that with these out sized Minimum Wages.
Well, yes. Yes they do. As you well know. Sir.
I would get a cranky, dismissive response as an acknowledgment that I’m spinning like a top, and no one is buying my (principled) bullshit :)
Anderson Cooper leans into the camera and earnestly intones, “taxpayers versus public employees”
Where does he think these people live and work and pay taxes? I think if I were even reading something I hadn’t reviewed that nonsense would pull me up short.
@shawntos: And states that eliminate the minimum wage will uncritically be called “Fair Pay” states in the media.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
If Florida’s not already a right-to-fire-you-at-will state, what the hell is it?
This is 100% horseshit. The only reason VA had a balanced budget (and for one stinking year) is because of massive funds from the communist Recovery Act:
The disinformation campaign just never ends on the Right.
I think that’s the actual name for those states. I had the head of the HR department explain it to me when I met with her regarding a problem many of us were having with our supervisor. It was labeled that way many decades ago. I think Tom Levenson had a post on it.
This really is fascinating to watch. It somehow feels like something has shifted. The wingnut words just aren’t working as well as they were in the past.
@Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):
I do love Maddow. She should be excepted from my rants.
@Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): That Anderson Cooper is a real piece of ass.
@shawntos: Never forget that a minimum wage kills jobs and damages small businesses.
@David Koch: Mika, Natalie Portman and now AC?
I do have to say you a have a good eye for talent Mr. Koch.
teehee, that’s what I like to call my particular brand of bullshit. This should be a new tag. Well done Kay!
@Violet: Oh, I don’t doubt that’s what those anti-union states branded themselves. But in what sense does “right-to-work” capture anything real and true about how those states operate? That’s what I mean.
It is wild to watch Ohio firefighters leading a chant with a bullhorn.
Which reminds me. Don’t I live in a country that spent the years from 2001 to 2008 all but elevating “first responders” to sainthood?
What happened to that? We were talking about volunteer firefighters, maybe?
I can’t keep up with who I’m supposed to resent.
@Corner Stone: That Anderson Cooper needs a good spanking.
It would probably be easiest to set your default to resentment and just keep a short list of those who are Real Americans (r).
Great post. We are also keeping a list of rallies and other ways to show support for labor over at Winning Progressive. I’d appreciate hearing if folks have other rallies, etc. to add to the list.
@Omnes Omnibus: I thought I was supposed to resent anyone doing better than me?
Or is it only if they’re doing better than me and complaining about something?
Hmmm, maybe default is the way to go after all.
That’s what I should do with libertarians. I started with “they’re with us on everything but air, water, taxes and wages” but then the list kept growing. I just added public libraries the other day.
I think listing the other way might be shorter.
A Leiberman List won’t work in this case.
@Corner Stone: You can resent those doing worse than you if they are elitists or in unions or a different race or a different creed, ad infinitum. The options are almost endless.
Cooper doesn’t think. He wants attention.
They are casting it as unions stealing from taxpayers, here in NJ.
Mike Kay (Chief of Staff)
a couple of years ago when Scott McClellan was promoting his book, Jon Stewart made fun of CNN and Cooper for saying, “we gonna ask Scott hard questions – questions you won’t hear elsewhere”, and Stewart produced clips of the very same questions, word for word, being asked of McClellan on other programs.
The Republicans seem to have made a serious miscalculation of their base. I think perhaps they really thought that the working class bloc of Republican voters was anti-union. Which is a bit strange for people who actually know working-class Republican voters. I mean, they bitch about having to pay union dues the way they bitch about paying their taxes, but just like bitching about their taxes doesn’t mean that they’d rather do without the things their taxes pay for, just because they bitch about their union dues that doesn’t mean that they don’t actually value the protection being in a union affords them.
I think working class Republicans have gotten complacent over the years and have figured that there wasn’t too much of a difference between Republicans and Dems as far as labor issues were concerned – that neither party was more likely than the other to try to attack them directly and that neither party was particularly looking out for them either (Democrats have spent the last 30+ years – at least – trying to undermine their relationship with labor. NAFTA being the most obvious example, but it goes back at least to Carter and is a good-sized chunk of the reason that “Reagan Democrats” existed in the first place). But the Republicans declaring open war on unions has suddenly woken up a bunch of folks who were sure there was no real difference between the two parties as far as their day-to-day lives were concerned. That’s an interesting shift – and one that I don’t think Republicans thought would happen.
Good post! “I thought it was amusing that advocates had to mount a targeted campaign to push for a single labor leader to appear and speak on a cable news show, to counter the parade of conservative governors and pundits.” I didn’t find it at all amusing, but I did find it very revealing because it really showed the extent of the media bias we’re up against. I was surprised, however, that NBC relented to pressure and let a union representative on, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it.
The Republicans seem to have made a serious miscalculation of their base. I think perhaps they really thought that the working class bloc of Republican voters was anti-union.
I don’t know. The professionals don’t believe that, although conservative pundits and media do.
Do you recall how much attention the union voter swing (towards Brown for Senate) in Massachusetts got? A lot. That fact that union voters carried that Senate election for Brown was used to bash Obama.
It isn’t just a midwestern thing. It’s an eastern thing, too.
I am amused by it, because it’s so blatant.
This AP article was making the rounds here locally, yesterday. The AP found five Tea partiers are a union rally in Canton, Ohio, and based their entire coverage on those five people.
And yet here we are – where Walker, Kasich and others are going full bore into confrontation mode with unions despite having needed the votes of those working-class union members to win their seats.
The only explanation I have for it is that either their personal ideology or their strategists have been telling them that Republican-voting union members really hate their unions and would be happy to have them disappear so they don’t have to pay union dues anymore. I can’t think of any other reason why they wouldn’t expect a backlash from this.
I also fail to understand how they could have thought that the private sector unions wouldn’t rally to the public sector’s side, or how the police and fire unions might stand aside and let the teachers and other public sector employees take it in the gut. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the entire concept of collectivism – I knew that they held the idea in contempt and hated it, but I always thought that they at least understood what it was they were hating and how they could most effectively fight it.
Now I kind of am coming to the conclusion that Republican hatred of unions is a “cargo cult ideology” – Republicans are supposed to hate unions so they hate unions. They don’t know exactly what unions do that is so hateful beyond the fact that they allow groups of people to organize to get paid more money than would happen if they could force the negotiations to happen one-on-one. I suppose that’s enough for most Republicans but there’s more to unions than that and I always thought that they understood that and that was why they were leery of having these kind of in-your-face confrontations with the unions.
@kay: I can’t keep up with who I’m supposed to resent.
Resentment is very fluid and unpredictable, and getting it wrong can be dangerous. You’d best leave those determinations to the experts.
Actually, I thought that the Holmes and Vedder citations were pretty damning, so I went looking for something that might refute them on something more than a “nuh-uh” basis. I found this on Holmes, which questions his methodology. And this is a start, at least, on Vedder.
The fact is, though, that unless and until flashy statistics like these can be refuted on a solid and routine basis, the union-busters are going to win the day, and make unions look bad in the eyes of the great unwashed. I’d love to find studies that can solidly refute these numbers (and with a Bottle Rocket home from school with the sniffles, I don’t have time to search for them myself today).
@kay: Yes, it does just make you want to shake your head.
I have to think that the media is a bit spooked by the fact that the tea partiers are actually not showing up in any appreciable numbers for counter protests, despite being pumped by all the usual sources and fawning retrospectives trying to tell everyone how “significant” the movement is.
Then, too, I was struck by ABL’s post, where the critique of the media and corporate sell out by the Palinistas is more or less identical to that coming from the left. Yes, I know that discourse is manufactured to an inch of its existence, but it is also certainly poll tested for efficacy. And if it plays into the meme of liberal media for the Palinistas and teabaggers, it also appropriates a pronounced anti-media and anti-corporatist sentiment, which is difficult to ignore when the politics are framed in terms of workers versus corporate (big business) interests, as the union issue currently is. That’s the framing that the conservative spin team is right now desperately trying to change.
@NonyNony: “The only explanation I have for it is that either their personal ideology or their strategists have been telling them that Republican-voting union members really hate their unions and would be happy to have them disappear so they don’t have to pay union dues anymore. I can’t think of any other reason why they wouldn’t expect a backlash from this.”
I’m pretty sure they thought they could buy/message/divide and conquer their way out of this. I think they were taken off guard by the fact that the police and firefighters sided with the other unions. I think they were even more surprised that they couldn’t materialize a large counter protest of teabaggers. Then, too, we got lucky in that Walker is a particularly inept politician.
QFT. That is all.
@Fargus: Quite so. If there was a functioning opposition in this country, they could point out that there are lots of people in those “right to work” states who want a job and can’t have one. So they evidently don’t have a “right to work”. They *do* have a right to get screwed over, and a right to starve, but those aren’t the same thing, though the Chamber of Commerce seems to think so.
@NonyNony: I interviewed for a job in a steel plant in Ohio a few months back and was told that during a union strike a few years back the union ousted their leadership and took a WORSE deal then they had before the strike. Guy telling me the story called them the most Republican union he had seen. So there was more evidence to support Walker going after unions then you’d think.
Remind me why higher growth is worthwhile if the benefits are limited to a narrow band of society?
@jwb: My phone call sure helped.
And yet – they still have a union. They didn’t get rid of it to save some money on union dues, and they still value their place at the table. Even if they took a worse deal than before.
That’s the miscalculation that I’m talking about – Republicans have this caricature of union workers as being lazy slobs who only value their union because it lets them be as lazy as possible. But really, most of the union guys I’ve known value their union because it gives them a sense that they have some say in what goes on – sure that manifests itself most often when it comes time to negotiate pay and benefits, but just having a place at the table and knowing that you’re part of the decision-making process and that management and the owners have to at least listen and negotiate with you – rather than just making decisions autocratically – makes the union worthwhile by itself.
I think so too. That’s part of the miscalculation I’m talking about. They figured that it was every union for itself, when that’s not actually the case. If Walker had had the public employees union make the first move – if they said they were going to strike instead of taking a benefits cut, for example – that might have worked. It’s easy to play the “that union is less reasonable/more greedy than you are” card when the union makes the first move (and from what I have read/barely recall was part of how Reagan was able to frame the air traffic controllers strike and bust their union up).
But they didn’t do that – they went with an all-out assault on the unions without the unions doing anything that they could point to to say “you’re not like them – they’re greedy bastards, you guys are good union guys”. That’s a blunder – a big one – and it suggests to me that Walker hasn’t got a clue.
Probably even more surprised to find out that some of the pro-union folks out there ARE teabaggers. Whoops.
@David Koch: I, for one, welcome our new Galtian commenter.
@NonyNony: The lesson conservatives seemed to have drawn from the 2010 elections and their ability to generate modest teabagger rallies is that politics is all a media game and they can win that game big. Actually, it’s not just a media game, and they didn’t win the campaign primarily on the basis of their media game. They also clearly elected a large number of very stupid politicians, which has made it more difficult for them to exploit the large media advantage that they do in fact have.
I think Wisconsin is still undecided and as long as Walker and his super friends stay the course they will eventually win. If for no other reason than they are willing to cause even more harm until they get their way.
This is not about doing well or doing good it is about serving their corporate masters and the people of America be damned.
I will just add that Tennessee is, in fact, a right-to-work state, but (unusually enough) teacher unions are the only group in the state allowed to collectively bargain. As a result, the Wisconsin-style assault on public school teachers is – in Tennessee, at least – a way of equalizing the organizing power of teachers relative to the rest of the state.
It is creating an entirely different sort of dynamic, where police and fire (who aspire to have better collective bargaining powers) are supporting teachers, not as an oppressed group, but as a group with the kind of power they’d like to have for themselves.
Tennessee is actually proposing a law that would forbid – across the board – collective bargaining, while Wisconsin is trying to eliminate a requirement to collectively bargain (as I understand Wisconsin, anyway, that’s the deal).
@Kurzleg: Remind me why higher growth is worthwhile if the benefits are limited to a narrow band of society?
Rawl’s difference principle? You know, that as long as there’s growth it makes no difference who gets it?
In the 80s it was “welfare queens” and, prior to that, the poor who were blamed for all our ills. Then, the voters were presented with the evil spectre of unions and their comfy factory jobs. Now, voters are instructed to feast on each other in a two-pronged approach: attacking retirees and their hard-earned benefits first, and then attacking public workers and teachers.
The politics of resentment, cynically manipulated to ensure that we focus on each other instead of the banksters. Quite a feat.
Anyone else read the op-ed by Charles Koch: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704288304576170974226083178.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
My favorite part? This comment:
My head just exploded. Is that comment just snark and I don’t get it? Billionaires (who own corporations) must speak out to save us from the Corporatist state?
Also, I love how Koch says, “Well, all other companies accept this government largesse, so we have to as well.”
Principles, how do they work?
@terraformer: The politics of resentment, cynically manipulated to ensure that we focus on each other instead of the banksters. Quite a feat.
Filed under credit where it’s due. It is a remarkable feat. Lots of very careful, concerted and expensive effort assures that government and democracy will remain chaotic and dysfunctional.
Sorry, editing no worky.
I’m a little surprised Democrats are being identified as “pro-labor”. I would have expected something more derogatory, like “pro-union” or “anti-taxpayer”.
Sigh. “Right-to-work” then, “taxpayers vs unions” now. It never, ever ends.
This is not really luck anymore. The Republican Party has no real serious depth on its bench, assuming they haven’t just sold the bench all together.
I mean, just look at the crop of candidates they fielded in their grand takeover of the House. They are all buffoons of an epic nature. Look at their “presidential contenders”; they are all varying degrees of national punchlines.
There’s a reason we get so upset that we are losing the messaging war with these motherfuckers. They are clowns.
It may be true that economic growth is higher in non-union states. Is it also true that, just as in the U.S. over the last 30 years, all of that economic growth has gone into the pockets of the very, very rich?
If economic growth does nothing for the prosperity of 99.8% of the people, what good is it?
Proud to be an SEIU “thug”, Local 668. Goddamnit!
@kay: “Which reminds me. Don’t I live in a country that spent the years from 2001 to 2008 all but elevating “first responders” to sainthood?”
No, you (and I) live in a country which spent several years after 2001 elevating them to Heroes on Posters, while simultaneously scr*wing them good and hard.
The firefighters were out again in force today, judging by the pictures from Columbus.
Good for them. I saw a photo out of PA this weekend that made me laugh. It was someone from a laborer’s union, and his sign said “just practicing” underneath the union mark :)
@NonyNony: “And yet here we are – where Walker, Kasich and others are going full bore into confrontation mode with unions despite having needed the votes of those working-class union members to win their seats.”
The best explanations are that (a) the Money People weren’t going to let a crisis slid, (b) that this was a good time to create further crises, and (c) that the GOP figured that they had gotten away with so much demonization, that it was a Sure Thing.
Hey, you forgot us! United Food and Commercial Workers. We’ve got thousands and thousands of members in Ohio in the private sector, and guess what they’re doing? Wearing stickers in their stores to show they support their brothers and sisters in the public sector. We’ve got some pretty dang good coverage of Ohio because we’ve got so many boots on the ground there: http://www.ufcwaction.org/site/PageServer?pagename=UFCW_Ohio
Our Twitter feed @ufcw is quite active, too, and we update our Facebook page about a million times a day, too. https://www.facebook.com/ufcwinternational