Human Events Blog

Unions storm Michigan capitol to protest right-to-work law

A right-to-work law is being debated in Michigan.  It’s the kind of “debate” that involves lots of intimidation, and a dash of violence, from union operatives.  USA Today reports:

Police arrested several protesters and sprayed mace into the crowd in the state Capitol on Thursday as lawmakers discussed right-to-work legislation that would make Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.

The protesters were arrested as they tried to rush the Senate floor, said Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk.

“When several of the individuals rushed the troopers, they used chemical munitions to disperse the crowd,” he said. “It would be a lot worse if someone gets hurt and I failed to act.”

I don’t know how rushing the Capitol contributes to a rational debate about important issues, but then again, I’m one of those old-fashioned types who thinks monopolies are bad, including when they’re held by corporations that sell labor to other corporations.

Everyone knows right-to-work laws are the ticket to increased job growth – without, of course, entirely over-riding other factors - although unions struggle mightily to obscure that fact.  (I can’t remember where I saw it, but I remember a union representative once claiming that right-to-work laws kill jobs, because artificially inflated union wages give people more money to spend, and money spent by highly-paid union employees creates jobs for the low-wage non-organized folks who serve them.  I would be willing to bet a donut that the same person would explode into an angry tirade if asked for his opinion about “trickle-down economics.”)  From the USA Today article:

“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan. It is to bring Michigan together,” the governor said, as hundreds of union protesters stormed the Capitol and the governor’s office, voicing their opposition to the plan.

Snyder, who for more than a year had maintained that he didn’t want to deal with the contentious issue and called it “too divisive,” said one of the things he looked at when deciding about backing right-to-work legislation is Michigan, was the neighboring state of Indiana where voters recently chose to make that a “freedom to choose” state. The governor said since right-to-work rules were added in Indiana, economic activity has increased and business has grown.

The National Law Review helpfully summarized the latest National Institute of Labor Relations Research study of right-to-work benefits:

According to a study by the National Institute of Labor Relations Research (the NILRR), the bulk of the country’s job growth since the end of the recession in 2008 took place in right to work states. Right to work states have some form of limitation on the ability to make paying union dues a condition of employment. The NILRR analyzed data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that approximately 72 percent of the net job growth in the United States from June 2009 through November 2012 was in the 21 right to work states in the United States (the job-growth numbers do not include Indiana, which only recently became a right to work state). These 21 states account for only 38.8 percent of the population.

According to the NILRR, “if these [right to work] states’ job increase had been no better than the 0.85 percent experienced by forced-unionism states as a group, the nationwide job increase would have been less than half as great.”

According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) adjusting for population, the right to work states had 4 times the job growth as the non-right to work states.

Recognizing this doesn’t require callous dismissal of the potential value of union labor.  I’m also old-fashioned enough to remember when unions invested a lot more effort in competing for jobs, by convincing employers that the quality of work by their well-trained members was superior.  In hard times marked by persistent high unemployment, demonstrating against right-to-work laws seems a bit daft.  That might be why the demonstrators have so little appetite for calm and reasoned debate.

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