By on December 7, 2012

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Yesterday, Bertel posted that Michigan, home to the United Auto Workers and a state where twice the national average of workers are organized by labor unions, “might” soon pass a right-to-work law, something that is anathema to labor unions. It appears that law will be enacted even faster than soon. On Thursday afternoon, with thousands of protesters at the capitol representing both sides of the issue, the first step in the legislative process, approval by the state House of Representatives, took place with the passage of House Bill 4054. The legislation is expected to be passed by the Michigan Senate and signed into law by Governor Snyder by the middle of next week.

By giving workers a chance to opt-out of closed-shop arrangements, but more significantly, by depriving unions of automatic payroll deductions of dues, mandatory political contributions or, in the case of those who refuse to join, equivalent agency fees (which effectively force workers to join unions) the legislation would immediately reduce the strength and financial (read: political) power of organized labor in a state long associated with labor unions. After similar legislation passed in Wisconsin last year, AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees lost 45 percent of its dues-paying members in that state. About a third of Wisconsin’s teachers’ union members stopped paying dues.

Following an endorsement of the law by Gov. Rick Snyder, Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives have rammed through the legislation on a mostly party line vote, 58-52. Per Michigan law, the bill sits for five days before the Michigan Senate takes it up and when it passes it will go to the governor’s desk to be signed. In a state where the Battle of the Rouge Overpass in Dearborn and the Buick sit-down strike in Flint are part of cultural lore (more here and here), Michigan as a right-to-work state would be psychological blow to the labor movement and a bit of a shock no matter where you stand on organized labor.

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The House’s approval of HB 4054 prompted protests by Democratic representatives who briefly walked out of the House chamber to let the bill’s opponents, some of whom had been bussed into Lansing to protest the law, into the capitol building. Democrats had sought and received an injunction from an Ingham County judge ordering the Michigan State Police to allow union members and their supporters (from how young some of the protesters looked in the video my guess is that some were students from nearby Michigan State University) into the capitol building. The MSP had earlier declared a lockdown of the capitol, enforced by “squadrons” of state troopers, after protesters tried to storm the Senate chambers before the vote. Even after they allowed the protesters into the capitol rotunda, a phalanx of state police stood between the protesters and the legislative chambers. That was only hours after the governor and Republican legislators announced that the right-to-work legislation would proceed. State police reported that in the earlier incident, eight people were arrested after they were subdued with pepper spray. There were about 2,000 protesters near the capitol, representing both sides of the issue. Michigan Freedom Fund president Greg McNeilly, whose group has been running ads on television and radio recently in support of the bill, claimed that union members tore down his group’s banner. The Detroit News Reported some pushing and shoving.

The legislative initiative follows quickly upon the heels of the defeat of two ballot proposals in the November election that were heavily supported by organized labor that would have entrenched union power in the Michigan constitution. With Republicans holding both houses of the Michigan legislature, the right-to-work bill will be passed, signed by Gov. Snyder, and indeed become law, probably next Tuesday after the Michigan Senate approves it. When that happens, UAW president Ron King has promised that organized labor will use the recall and ballot initiative processes to overturn it, though an appropriation attached to the final bill makes it referendum-proof according to Michigan law.

Interestingly, the right-to-work issue was pretty much dead in the water in Michigan until the UAW and other unions poured millions of dollars into trying to pass those ballot issues, particularly Proposal 2, which was apparently perceived by voters as a union power grab. The proposal was defeated by a 57-43 margin, close to a landslide victory by American political standards. Introducing that legislation may have been a strategic error by King, the UAW and their public employee allies in AFSCME, SEIU and the Michigan Education Association. Gov. Snyder didn’t want to roil the waters and antagonize the unions so his allies in the state legislature were blocking RTW legislation. With the unions’ weakness apparent in the wake of the ballot proposals’ defeat, and a threat by conservative Republicans to mount what appeared to be a successful leadership challenge to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, who was holding up the legislation on behalf of the governor, the governor relented and allowed the legislation to proceed.

The right-to-work law will have an immediate affect and not just on the UAW and other private sector unions in the automotive industry. Just about anything that happens in Detroit of consequence almost necessarily affects the domestic auto industry. It will be interesting to see how many of Detroit’s public employees stay loyal to their unions. Their union leaders have been fighting hard against concessions that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and others say are necessary to save the city from its impending bankruptcy. The new law will give the mayor and the governor more leverage in dealing with the recalcitrant unions. In trying to hold back the floodwaters threatening organized labor following its reversals in Wisconsin, the UAW and its allies may have let the right-to-work dam burst in Michigan.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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119 Comments on “Well That Was Quick: Michigan House Passes Right-To-Work Laws, UAW Vows to Fight On After Strategic Error, Eight Arrested in Capitol Protests. UPDATE: Michigan Senate Passes Bills...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Well, that is surprising. Although, the impression I have is that, outside the rust belt industrial cities, Michigan is basically Alabama with snow, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Wow. This is pretty major. The UAW might be regretting alienating younger workers with the two-tier system now.

    Still “It will be interesting to see how many of Detroit’s public employees stay loyal to their unions” is the much bigger deal. The UAW has adversarial negotiations with companies. Public sector unions – not so much.

    I’m not as optimistic as Ronnie on the public sector union front, but public sector unions are the real problem. That includes police unions conservatives. If the head of the UAW gave one million dollars to the CEO of GM before union negotiations? A bribe. Two people would be in jail. A public sector union does that for a major, or for aldermen before union negotiations? A contribution.

    • 0 avatar
      DJTragicMike

      No, this is not major. A little reality check – this law only keeps people from having to pay union dues when they are not in a union. Whoopee. It is already legal to not be in a union, in case you didn’t know. It will have little to no effect on labor costs or the economy in general.

      Another reality check – unions are the reason someone could raise an average family on a single income back in what many consider the glory days of America (post-war). Today? Not so much. I’d save the union bashing and instead focus on the more substantial reasons for our decline in wages and massive increase in wealth disparity.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Right-to-work laws do not prohibit unions, but they do make it nearly impossible to unionize new factories, for better or worse. That is why almost every transplant automotive factor has been built in states with right to work laws.

        The cost of paying a good worker is not the problem for companies. The problem for companies is that union is that they stand in the way of laying off workers when technology make manufacturing more efficient, and force work rules that stand in the way of flexible manufacturing. Laying off redundant workers sounds harsh, but if redundant workers cannot be laid off then there in no financial incentive for innovation. The UAW started the jobs bank program when robotic assembly lines were introduced.

        People think of big companies and limitless piles of cash, but imagine if you had to keep paying photo development fees to Walgreens, even though you bought a digital camera, or had to keep paying for a landline even though you have a cell phone, or had to keep paying for cable even if you were happy with Netflix and Hulu Plus? Those are, in effect, the kinds of luddite situations that unions for on companies and, in even more extreme ways, on governments.

        Forcing luddite policies to keep people, or companies, in redundant, outdated positions where they create no additional value is not good for anyone.

      • 0 avatar
        DJTragicMike

        racer-esq :

        Japan and Europe have auto worker unions and automation hasn’t been stifled there. There are plenty of reasons for our failing auto industry but the UAW isn’t at the top. These discussions always exhibit vague distrust to outright hatred of unionized workers but no evidence they are to blame. Personally, I think it is jealousy. They have good wages and benefits in a time when the American worker is getting utterly screwed by corporations.

      • 0 avatar

        Germany is not the “Europe”. Europe is not doing well – just opposite – it falls apart. Germany and Japan are unique cultures with highly productive, well educated and disciplined workforce where all people are united by national idea and national pride.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      I just read that the law allows police and firefighter unions to maintain closed union shops, which is cynical and partisan, and limits the effectiveness of the law.

      The lazyness, lack of accountability criminal behavior and corruption that police unions support and defend for their members makes the functioning of the UAW look like a libertarian paradise. The UAW doesn’t cover up rape and murder, like police unions do, and I can choose not to buy a GM car, I can’t choose not to pay property taxes.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    This will return Michigan to being THE place to manufacture. This will not be good for the south. I do not think this will create a lot of low level manufacturing jobs, so it won’t solve the widespread poverty. It will basically be companies using cutting edge technology, and a few skilled workers, to assemble cars in a very central geographic location, free of the productivity hindering workrules, and free of being unable to lay off workers that automation replaces.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      This might have hurt the south if Michigan had done this 25 years ago. As it is, the transplants are already solidly entrenched in the south. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen have modern plants with plenty of capacity in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. They are not going to shut down these facilities and relocate to Michigan just because Michigan has suddenly gotten religion and enacted a right to work law.

      You are right that this legislation should help Michigan in the long run. Just a few years ago Volkswagen was looking for a place to locate their new North American plant. At the time VW did entertain an offer from Michigan. Unfortunately, the week the VW delegation was in Michigan to meet the Governor and tour the proposed plant site, the UAW was on strike against GM and American Axle and this strike was getting a lot of coverage in the media. Shortly afterward VW released its short list of final candidates and Michigan did not make the cut. The new plant eventually went to Tennessee.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        +1

        #swag. Can’t wait to see it in action

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Also, those southern states have spent years making tax expenditures (i.e. tax breaks) that apply to auto manufacturers. Michigan will need to pay up to match that.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        Yep, if Michigan had passed this 25 years ago the state would be in a very different position than it is now.

        Imagine, all of the transplants would have been based near Detroit due to the supply chain infrastructure and existing skilled labor force. Its taken significant time, money, and effort to make the South what it is today from a supplier and manufacturer perspective.

        Given that the UAW is still based in Michigan, I don’t think any transplant manufacturer would risk building a factory there as I’m sure the unionisation efforts would be tremendous.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Michigan has some great skilled workers and excellent universities, but I don’t see this law causing auto manufacturing to return to Detroit. Instead, I see small companies using the skilled people of Michigan to make products we haven’t thought of yet. With less union threat, these companies will be able to attract more investment. If they follow the trends in other states, the new manufacturing will occur in rural areas without Democrat machine politics. Good for the state, but the really dysfunctional places like Detroit, Flint, etc. won’t see the new investment.

    • 0 avatar

      While I think right to work will help Michigan companies, the South has advantages, such as far more civilized weather, that make it a more pleasant place for most people to live.

      Why would anyone want to open a plant, or live, in a place with brutal winters, high taxes and even more corrupt and incompetent government than the national average?

      (I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida and let’s just say it was a really good move for me :) ).

      D

      • 0 avatar

        Well, yes…but I believe (and don’t quote me on this, I’m Canadian) that Michigan doesn’t suffer the big threats from things like tornadoes, floods and hurricanes that many of the southern states do. So that can be a factor too.

        And winter really isn’t that bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        Winters are far from brutal here, and the awesome Spring-Summer-Fall stretch more than makes up for any discomfort. Heck last year, winter was so mild that we skipped our Florida trip. I don’t want the winters too mild though, they’re great for clearing out the bugs, rodents, and wimps.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m a wimp. I lived in Michigan from age 10 until I was 23. Number one reason I moved South was that I couldn’t stand the cold and snow any longer. Good lord do I hate snow. And you only get like 8 hours of daylight in the winter. And deer hunting is pretty much a religion.

        I’ll take my chances with the hurricanes, roaches, and meth addicts here in FL.

        Basements are cool though.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    Wisconsin’s law only applies to public sector unions. Wisconsin has no right to work laws, and none planned.

    My sympathies to Michigan which will now endure months/years of rabid unions, trying ever legal tactic to over turn this law. recalls, multiple lawsuits, heck maybe the senator will run away to Indiana or Ohio

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      My sympathies are with Michigan who will now see their wages be driven lower. Just one more stake in the heart of America’s declining middle-class.

      • 0 avatar

        Ubermensch,

        What makes you think that the human beings in management are any greedier than the human beings who provide labor?

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        The human beings who provide labor, are only asking for ~$25/hr. That’s about $50k a year. Do you really consider that greedy? By the way- the starting salary for the lower tier is only $15/hr. That’s only $30k a year. You won’t be buying ANY new GM car on that salary.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        @Ronnie-
        The fact that CEOs earn 380 times that of their employees. Wealth disparity has been shifting towards the top for decades. Labor may not be any less greedy but they aren’t the ones with the power to actually take what they want.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >My sympathies are with Michigan who will now see their wages be driven lower. Just one more stake in the heart of America’s declining middle-class.<

        Detroit was the richest US city at the start of the 1950's and is now the second poorest, thanks to unions.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        @Uber
        So a salary commensurate with responsibility = greedy? There are governments of countries who have tried telling people what their wage would be, and it didn’t work out so great.

        Also, labor has exercised it’s ability to take what it wants quite regularly in the form of various labor disputes. Unions, especially when they get to be the size of large corporations, are just able to do it on a grander scale.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I bet the Hostess workers are _real_ thrilled with their unions.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        thornmark: Detroit was the richest city in the 50′s thanks to unions.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Detroit was rich in the ’50s thanks to the dominance of the US auto industry. It is the poorest today thanks to the unions.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Detroit is poor because the car industry failed, it failed because Detroit designed terrible cars that nobody wanted. It has little to nothing do with the unions. Besides, it was management that agreed to the unions terms. The auto industries in Asian and Europe are doing pretty well and they are mostly union labor.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @Ubermensch & icemilkcoffee:

        The ‘middle class’ workers at the transplants aren’t complaining about wages, benefits, or working conditions, so I wouldn’t expect wages to drop quickly.

        And no GM worker has to be able to purchase the vehicles they build. Do you think Ferrari workers drive Ferraris? Or maybe the mfrs should scale their pay according to the price of their products?

        Finally, $25/hr for unskilled labor is exceptionally high. Many degreed engineers don’t make that much. Unions have distorted the rules of the labor market so people think they’re entitled to be paid a wage that they could never earn without union bullying.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Ice milk,
        I think 25 an hour can be quite greedy. It depends on the value provided for the wage, what other costs are also included, how dependable the worker is, quality, skill, etc.

        I don’t think that the human beings investing in and running a business who may or may not get 25 an hour will keep doing that if some other human beings can demand a 65k a year comp package at the threat of strike, boycott, physical threats, public humiliation, etc. I don’t think a system where being a worker is a better deal than being a manager will work.

        I don’t think people whose industries are not protected from competition should have to pay higher prices to support the greedy human beings who think they deserve whatever they think they deserve because some politicians fixed the game.

      • 0 avatar

        Ubermensch,

        What’s wrong with making a lot of money?

        I was talking about the human condition, something that can’t be measured by salaries. I don’t see rich folks as inherently evil and greedy. A poor person can be just as greedy, just a likely to cheat and steal, as a rich person.

        This is just a blog comment so I don’t have time to fully flesh out the idea, but your view reminds me a bit of those who say that only white people can be racists because blacks or other groups don’t have the institutional and cultural power that white people have (in passing I’ll just note that since the election the racialist phrase “old white men” has been used with no sense of irony, some animals are more equal than others like Mr. Blair said). Yes a CEO has power, but that power is not omnipotent and in any case Ron King has a lot of power as well, more than I do for sure.

        Humans aren’t perfect, but in my experience poor people are no more likely to be saints than rich people are likely to be knaves.

        You mentioned salary disparities. I just wonder if you have the same attitude towards entertainers and athletes as you do towards CEOs, or are some windfall profits less exploitative than others? I just saw a list of hip hop performers that I’d pretty much never heard about (I’m hardly hip these days) and each of them was worth (not counting debt) 8 and 9 figures. Just like manufacturing, the entertainment industry has people that actually do the work and get the product out. Should George Clooney get $20 million for working on a movie when a makeup artist gets a few thousand dollars?

        Perhaps you’ll say, “but Clooney gets people to come see the movie. His salary is a needed expense. He makes us money.” I’m sure that stockholders and board members of well managed companies see executive salaries in the same way.

        I happen to think that a lot of corporate executives are indeed overpaid but not because it’s too much of a multiple of what their lowest paid employees earn, but because those executives aren’t serving their stockholders well.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “I happen to think that a lot of corporate executives are indeed overpaid but not because it’s too much of a multiple of what their lowest paid employees earn, but because those executives aren’t serving their stockholders well.”

        Ain’t that the truth. There are companies where a drunken monkey could produce the same quarterly results (which unfortunately are the only metric that seems to matter) as some of the CEOs who have sat in the big chair. That doesn’t even include the bankster CEOs who made massive losses due to gross incompetence that we backstopped.

        It’s very difficult to quantify the actual value of a CEO. Most aren’t worth what they get paid because the incremental financial performance that they create isn’t very high relative to someone who could be paid a lot less. Don’t get me wrong, there are some CEOs who do produce value, but it’s far fewer than believed by the executive suite and those who determine its pay.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        CEOs are overpaid, the board of directors system is incredibly corrupt, with the CEO of company A being on the board of company B, the CEO of company B being on the board of company A, and them voting each other quid pro quo raises. Shareholders have no control because of diversification. But the money CEOs are overpaid with isn’t being stolen from workers, it is being stolen from shareholders.

  • avatar
    Eyebolt

    It should be noted that HB 4054 was originally a 1 1/2 page piece of legislation creating a commission for labor disputes. That was the legislation that made it out of committee. Yesterday, the House Republicans “edited” (basically struck out and replaced all the previous language) HB 4054 and replaced it with the 8 page piece of legislation that it passed the same day. This was done to side step the committee/hearing process and allow them to vote on a completely different piece of legislation. Click on the HB 4054 link in the article and then check out the bill as introduced and compare it to the “Substitute H-1 adopted” bill (which is essentially the final House passed bill).

    All of this done in a lame duck session of congress before the GOP’s majority takes a bit of a hit in the next session.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Both sides have started playing by the same rules, which is to abandon any sense of right and wrong while using any method that is technically legal. I don’t see it stopping any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      And JFK gave Federal workers unionization rights by executive order – which was truly sneaky. No votes at all.

      50 years ago, Kennedy’s order empowered federal unions
      http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-01-19/politics/35440887_1_union-membership-federal-unions-federal-employees

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    I live in Michigan. The day after the election, i got a pollster call with just one question, “do you favor a right to work law?” at the time i thought, “what is this question about? strange for michigan. ”

    apparently republicans sensed and verified the mood as voters soundly defeated the union drive to amend our constitution and enhance their power. democrats, of course, are in an uproar about “the process” used to put these bills through. it’s really just that they don’t like it!

    “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” -Thucydides ca 411 BC

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Dr Olds, I was enormously surprised to learn of this event as well, and now I understand better since you mentioned the call from the pollster.

      So it was all about the phrasing and not necessarily the understanding by those polled re: what the question entailed and what the ramifications would be.

      And of course there were some shenanigans and sleights of hand by the Republicans, if we’re willing to believe the Democrats as they were being interviewed for the six o’clock news.

      All in all, a most surprising development, even for non-affiliated Independents like me. Now there will be an onslaught of challenges, but the people have the final say. They can actually join a union if they want to, or not.

      That’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. It’s called freedom of choice, a right treasured by every American and most feared by the unions.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The republicans did push this bill through very quickly, though not illegally, or unethically as Dems assert. I can’t say as I blame them, given how quickly the union activists were bused in from Illinois to try to shut down our senate even with such short notice. I wonder how bad it would have gotten if this was allowed to brew for weeks. Seven of them were pepper sprayed and arrested. Dem’s claim locking the capital doors to prevent the mob from rushing the senate is “un-democratic”. Unionists trying to impose their minority will on the majority in thuggish ways actually is. A poll showed that RTW is favored by Michigan residents 51-41 and our elected representatives are effecting the majority’s will with this bill. Of course, it is far from over, in the context of public demonstrations and efforts to shut the government down. Such is the mentality of a group who believe it is OK to hold a club over employers to get more.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, it probably would have gotten pretty bad. Given time, the unions would have dreamed up more violence to halt passage.

        I saw the Michigan State Senate Democrat Leader on TV last night and she was not happy and proclaimed if there had been “discussion” she could possibly have changed her mind. But if, like you said, the majority of the people polled were in favor of RTW, then it didn’t really matter if there was discussion or not. Their will was done!

        In the end, though, it’s the people who have to choose with their actions by either joining a union or not. As I understand it, this only affects certain unions’ membership and not others, like civil service, police and firefighters, and there is nothing that says that a person cannot a join a union of their choice if they so choose.

        All this union turmoil brought me back to the days of when my dad was a card-carrying IBEW member in Southern California for almost two decades.

        It also reminded me of how happy he was after getting his DoD Civil Service appointment as an Electrician in 1965 and not being forced to join a union. In celebration he took the whole family out to eat at a drive-in called Oscar’s. It’s funny that this should bring back memories of more than 40 years ago.

        I wonder if there are people in Michigan who are celebrating getting to keep more of their own money by not having to be a union member?

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Truly payback for Prop 2. Bob King’s tribute to himself. Time to partner up with Matty Moroun again? Adios Bob.

    By the way, how are you doing in organizing transplant automakers? Haven’t heard much about that lately.

  • avatar

    corrupt union officials are about to get what they deserve.

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      I see no mention of mandatory gangland style executions.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I heard an expression today of “raped to death by an elepahant”

        (I’m just going to leave that there without context.)

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        I imagine during the mounting process death would occur long before actual rape thus turning it into…(and I forget the term and don’t want to look it up at work), so it would be “killed by an elephant, who then proceeded to perform said henious act and was thus committed to the Alan Baker State Institution of Psychiatry”

      • 0 avatar

        If I’m not mistaken, in Rome, in the Circus Maximus, women were sometimes executed by being tied down to a platform, smeared with the estrus drippings of a mare and being mounted by a stallion.

        And social conservatives think that our culture is as decadent as it can get.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        Page 9 paragraph 3

      • 0 avatar

        Rome was socialist utopia according to historian. They did not have unions may be (or may be they had) but they had food stamps and welfare.

        http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture13b.html:

        “Beginning with Augustus Caesar, the city of Rome provided bread, oil and wine to its urban population. What this meant, is that almost 250,000 inhabitants of Rome consumed about 6 million sacks of grain per year, free. Rome provided citizens with food — it also provided them with entertainment. Of the poor, the poet Juvenal could write:

        with no vote to sell, their motto is “couldn’t care less,” Time was when their plebiscite elected generals, heads of state, commanders of legions: but now they’ve pulled in their horns, there’s only two things than concern them: BREAD and CIRCUSES.

        For instance, at the Venatio, animals were led into an amphitheater where heavily armed men fought and killed them. This was a popular pastime which was provided to the urban poor and aristocracy by the benevolence of the emperor. These events were held in a structure called the Circus Maximus which was built during the second century B.C. between the Capitoline and Aventine Hills in Rome. After being destroyed by fire, it was reconstructed in A.D. 200 and had a capacity for 250,000 spectators.”

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Remember, all of the hysterics over a law that makes union membership VOLUNTARY.

    It’s not outlawing unions, it’s not forbidding people from joining a union, it’s just saying you have the right to decide whether or not you want to join a Union at your workplace.

    This SHOULD be the law in all 50 states.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It would seem only natural that one ought to have the choice.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      You could also argue that- if you don’t want to join a union- don’t work for a union shop. There are lots of Toyota/Honda/ Hyundai, etc plants which are non union shops.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        Sort of like if you don’t want to work for a company that discriminates based on skin color, you can always go to work for another employer?

      • 0 avatar
        RockKickass

        the `company` owns the shop – you work for the company – not the union. its the perception that they are both equal is problematic.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Jacob: isn’t that the right/libertarian’s position? That a company can discriminate all they want? Why is it that a company can make every kind of employment decision, but not allowed to make union membership a requriement of employment?

      • 0 avatar
        beefmalone

        @jacob_coulter: I’ll see your red herring and raise you a straw man.

        You might as well talk about not working for places that let bosses murder employees.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “You could also argue that- if you don’t want to join a union- don’t work for a union shop. There are lots of Toyota/Honda/ Hyundai, etc plants which are non union shops.”

        Is Hitler’s killing of Jews justified by your logic? Like, if you are a Jew and don’t want to get killed, move to another country???

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Wow, it took long enough, but this thread finally got Godwin’d.

        Funny how this site always has so much hullabaloo over UAW even though UAW and its ilk have been declining in influence and are a decreasing proportion of our workforce.

        There is often less discussion of public employee unions. Why public employees need to be unionized is beyond me. When you are making more than the private sector for the same work, that’s a problem. When you have to put incompetent or scumbag (indecent exposure, child molestation) teachers in rubber rooms because the union protects them, that’s a problem. When you can’t fire incompetent people because they don’t even meet the minimal standards, that’s a problem.

        These are all supposed to be responses to management abuses, but there are obvious cases of incompetence where people need to be fired. There’s no reason we can’t have exemptions for the truly abusive cases instead of the current process.

        We can do better on both sides, management and labor, but as I said before, both sides stake out untenable mutually exclusive positions rather than working together in each other’s interests. The process is usually destructive, rather than constructive.

    • 0 avatar
      JimothyLite

      jacob:

      Color me unfair, but you raced to an unequal comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        I don’t think it’s unfair at all.

        I love how liberals give answers like “if you don’t like it, work somewhere else” Funny how that type of answer smacks of hypocrisy with their agenda. How about a factory with unsafe working conditions? Go work somewhere else? Is that the answer you’d give.

        If you’re in the automotive manufacturing sector in Michigan, you’re only option if you don’t want to be a Union member is to move out of the state.

        Again, look at all the hysterics over letting people VOLUNTARILY decide if they want to be a union member and have money taken out of their paycheck.

        It seems the Union-apologists are REALLY scared due paying members might not think the world of their Union and now have the ability to leave. Before, they were trapped, and that’s just how the Union bosses liked it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The “just go somewhere else” is an argument used by all sides depending on the situation.

        In this case, I believe that people should be free to choose their own associations, regardless of their employment. Also, the go somewhere else argument implies there is somewhere else to go. I believe laws should encourage that there be a somewhere else, which closed shops prevent.

        As far as I can tell, people in right to work states are doing just as well as in non-right to work states. They aren’t dying from unsafe conditions any quicker, they aren’t losing their weekends any sooner, etc. (The exception is with illegal labor who don’t speak English, don’t have oportunities, and live with the fear of an employer/landlord/creditor getting them deported. They are dying from workplace accidents at an increased clip, they are being abused, they are getting shorted in their pay.)

        The key is that people will be okay if they aren’t “kept workers.” If they are free to move and have options, they won’t be abused. Both a laissez-faire & heavily unionized environments trap workers, and that hurts everyone.

    • 0 avatar

      “This SHOULD be the law in all 50 states.”

      The Federalist in me says that should be up to the individual states.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        I’d like it to be a state law in all 50 states, but I’d have no problem with a federal law since these union organizations cross state lines and all sorts of federal labor laws already apply.

        I don’t see how keeping all the rest of the federal labor laws but not passing this one strengthens the case for federalism.

        I’m a fan of federalism, but that ship sailed a long time ago, and if the Supreme Court ever wants to get back to the roots of the Constitution and have a strict test of what the federal government is allowed to regulate, I’ll happily watch this and hundreds of thousands of other federal laws vanish.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Sure, there should be a choice. If you dont want to join the union, don’t.

    However..don’t expect union wages, benifits,recall rights,or representation.

    • 0 avatar
      Yeah_right

      So, alternately, that should mean the company gets to have the choice to offer non-union employees more to avoid the hassle and loss of productivity that comes with having a union.

      That’d be entertaining as hell. Alas, union-paid politicians made that choice-based scenario illegal.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Wow..Have any of you guys ever worked in the blue collar world? Five guys having lunch. Two of them don’t to be part of the Union and pay dues?

    “What did you clear this week Fred? “Oh really”? “Must suck to have to pay union dues eh”?

    Think about it.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      With union membership down 80% over the last 50 years, I’d say it hasn’t been a success. Unions always tout their benefits, but ignore the lost jobs which are a direct result of their demanding ways.

      My father was a steelworker for 15 years, forced to join the union. The union didn’t stop his eventual layoff in 1982, but he made great money until that happened. He said he would gladly have earned less money if only he could have kept his job longer. Instead, the USW loudmouths went on TV every night telling the public what a raw deal they were getting, making $25/hr back then, and with 13 weeks vacation for the long-termers like him.

      As you know, unions stand for more than wages and benefits. Working conditions and negotiation strength are also part of it. But the worst enemy of the union is the Internet. Today, widespread information availability and worker mobility makes it impossible for slave labor rates and unsafe working conditions to exist for long.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A long time ago, I used to work for a plant that was represented by a major union, but acutally voted out the union in favor of a voluntary collective bargaining group run by plant employees.

    This worked out well. Compensation went up because no more dues and benefits remained the same. The plant could then bring in “temps”. What they used the ‘temps” for was a trial period to find out if they were worthy of hiring. After 60-90 days, if they were productive and cooperative people, they were hired in full time.

    Because the situation worked out alright for both parties, it reall made the union seem akin to a group of mafiosos insisting you pay them for unnecessary “protection”.

  • avatar
    Oelmotor

    So, Is Apple going to setup shop in Michigan?

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like it will be a Foxconn-run plant. Apple has offered to kick in some investment but it does not plan to run the plant.

      Unsurprising since they have the expertise to run an Apple plant – they have been doing so for ages.

      http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/12/07/us-mac-production-likely-to-still-rely-on-foxconn-not-american-companies

      I might add that Jim Jannard of RED Digital Cinema has been making his digital cinema cameras in the US since the introduction of his EPIC and Scarlet lines. He is on the record as saying that the labor cost difference is negligible because assembly takes very little time. Of course his cameras cost $10,000+ so the scale is a bit different from computers. Needless to say, his labor costs are in no way comparable to cars because everything’s heavily automated.

      The heart of Jim’s company is extremely well compensated R&D employees, who have always been based in California, or their favored country of origin. They took a lot of pleasure in setting up the Irvine factory, and it’s an ultra-modern, state of the art place. Each camera takes, if my memory serves, only about 10 minutes of assembly time, so the difference in labor cost is nicely offset by not having to pay travel and living expenses for lots of foreign trips needed to deal with overseas manufacturers.

      D

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      With a Foxconn run factory in the US, people would wish they hadn’t killed off all the unions.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Nonsense. The regulatory environment in the US would improve working conditions (hours), and today’s freedom of information would improve wages.

        Any other ‘benefits’ gained by union representation would only limit employment to the privileged few.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Back in China, Foxconn greatly improved worker’s pay. When watching TV news, you need to understand the basic context there. Of course, you can’t compare Foxconn’s pay package with that of rich nations, but it’s still a big step up from what those lower class Chinese would get otherwise. Just FYI, in China, workers can choose where they want to work. They picked Foxconn willingly.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Hmmm. The UAW, AFSCME, A teachers union, and SEIU – a union covering mostly public employees. All four contributed to the democrats nationally and got slapped by the republicans at the state level. How much was politics and how much was what the people wanted? My old union donated to the republicans at the national level. I stay in touch; things are about the same.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “How much was politics and how much was what the people wanted?”

      Well, I guess the legislators also want to find out, thus passing a law that enables a worker to either choose to be a union member, or choose not to be one.

      If it’s not something people wanted, they can just stay with the unions. Nothing changes. Doesn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    You win. RF’s roots die hard. This will eventually wither and die because of the polarity on what should be an apolitical topic.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Well folks- welcome to your $15/hr future. And don’t bother planning for your weekend. The company expects you to be on call in case they need you to come in.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Is “Well folks- welcome to your $15/hr future” (+) profit sharing and other incentives (>) “Welcome to your $27/hr present” (-) “were did all the jobs go”, wait (+) “I can now work at walmart for $8/hr”?

      I hired about 20 former Mack Truck employees who were happy as hell to have the wage (roughly $15/hr + incentives) and hated the UAW for making them sacrificial lambs for the greater good*. Wages changed a long, long time ago.

      *Now as a side note, Mack tried to relocate here when they did to escape the UAW and if they hadn’t come in and tried to pay people minimum wage and treated them like crap they would have never unionized, so it was a two sided street filled with potholes, management was still stuck in Roger Smith’s war on labor mentality despite not actually having an enemy anymore and embracing it, they created one to destroy (themselves included)???

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      icemilkcoffee,

      The problem with your perspective is that you believe your side (the unions) is pure and good and that management is evil and greedy.

      The reality is that both sides have elements of both and both sides need each other to do well. When that doesn’t happen (cough, Hostess, GM, Chrysler, States of California, Illinois and about 48 others, cough), and irresponsible, greedy management decisions meet with unreasonable and greedy unions, the brown material hits the fast moving, plastic rotating apparatus.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        agree with jkross22, and it always brings this to mind:

        A corporate CEO, a public union member, and a Tea Party member sit around a table. In the center of the table is a plate holding 12 cookies. The CEO takes 11 cookies starts eating them. The Tea Party member appears puzzled. The CEO leans over and whispers in his ear, “look out for that union guy, he wants part of your cookie.”

        The reality is that both sides use brinksmanship and posturing to make it a zero-sum game, when in reality, both sides could gain something if they took a more cooperative approach (much like Congress!).

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Ice,
        Why don’t you start your own business?

        Jkross,
        Around here, the TEA party members are big on the 2nd amendment. The CEO better not grab so fast. :)

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Management usually gets the union it deserves. The problem is that, over time, the union becomes entrenched, and its leadership is really no more concerned about the rank-and-file, let alone the general good, than management is.

        Some of the antics pulled by municipal unions and construction unions in Philadelphia, for example, leave me scratching my head.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Greener,
        That works both ways. Unions eventually get the management they deserve.one place the domestics recruit for management is military officers. They don’t get the best, and unions are one of the reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      icemildcoffee,

      Sustainable wage increases only happen when full-employment is achieved. Companies and workers both benefit from full employment as long as inflation and outsourcing can be kept in check.

      Artificial wage increases often reduce the number of jobs in an economy, and artificial wage increases, along with middle-class tax increases (FICA), encourage outsourcing.

      Unions are not moving anyone closer to the end goal.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Moral opinions aside, this a brilliant strategic political move by the Republicans. Essentially, it’s a type of warfare strategy (I forget the name) in which a smaller force cuts the supply routes (union political contributions) of a larger force. As a fan of books like “The Art of War”, “The Prince”, and “The 48 Laws of Power” I had to point that out.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      You could call it a supply line strategy or perhaps a blockade. For example, the Americans cut off the British from supplies during the Revolutionary War at Yorktown through French blockades and through Francis Marion’s attacks. The Union army also used it against the Confederacy (Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan, Sherman’s scorched earth, etc).

      Have you also read On War by Clausewitz?

  • avatar
    TW4

    The fact that we are even discussing whether or not right-to-work should be passed, shows how screwed up this country is regarding labor laws.

    What kind of laborer would ever allow a third-party private organization to garnish workers’ wages as a precondition of employment? You have to be a thoroughly brain-washed sap to cede that kind of legal power to a private company, regardless of your political leanings. Unions are so awesome they have to force people to join? Damn! That’s quite an achievement. Where do I sign up?

    If a corporation manages to gain control of successive generations of union officials, then what? Workers are forced to continue subsidizing inept management as they scramble to elect people who don’t respond to bribery. Awesome. I’ve always wanted to assume that completely unnecessary risk.

    Closed-shop is the epitome of the intelligence of American organized labor.

    Right-to-work eliminates the risks of close-shop, and if unions do their job, right-to-work will still preserve the benefits. Enough continuation of dumb-ass baby-boomer policy initiatives in this country. People have borrowed enough money from their children, particularly the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed 100%.

      “a third-party private organization to garnish workers’ wages as a precondition of employment”

      Sounds like an organized crime tactic called ‘paying protection’, how was this ever legal in the first plase?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-Cars-Later: It was legalized in the FDR era, and over time, brought the near death of the American auto industry as well as killing off a huge share of our manufacturing.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Dr Olds…..So you were on salary at GM right? You got your pay and benifits increased with every new GM/UAW agreement right?

        So now your saying that the UAW/ CAW was/is responsible for all of the problems that led to the downfall of GM?

        lousy designs, greedy incompetent, lazy, unaccountable,layers of management have no responsibility for the BK?

        How about Red ink Ric? 20 million buy out when he should have been escourted out the door.

        Oh yeah and the thieving dealers,that cost us thousands and thousands of customers. The same buyers that queitly walked out the door,never ever to return.

        Who made the decisions to rake obscene porofits in during the truck craze? At the same time ignoring small cars. Sure, why not shove the money into the bloated management pockets. They can blame the unions.

        Face it dude, the union may not have been without sin. But it wasn’t the union that stood by and watched while Honda and Toyota handed you your lunch.

        For the most part Doc, I usually agree with you. but not this time.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        @ mikey, Best post I have ever read here!

        My favorite line, “But it wasn’t the union that stood by and watched while Honda and Toyota handed you your lunch”. And I’m no fan of unions.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        @ mikey

        Obviously, the manufacturing depression has been limited to the auto industry where bad management and corrupt dealerships live.

        Oh. The loss of jobs has been widespread throughout all manufacturing industries and segments? Well, that kind of pokes a whole in my theory.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @mikey- I am not saying EVERY problem is on the head of UAW/CAW, there is plenty of blame to go around. It is clear that their monopoly power to impose unsustainable labor costs is the direct reason for the financial weakness that led to the bankruptcies driven by the financial crisis of ’08. If not for UAW power, the US makers could have cut there labor costs in line with reduced volumes caused by some of the reasons you cite. I don’t blame the UAW member, but the leadership for failing to do what was necessary for decades, until the 2007 contract. Gettlefinger is a hero for finally breaking the trend. We were very optimistic for a turnaround until external financial issues completely collapsed industry sales in October ’08.
        As a salaried employee, there were times I got much higher raises, and other times I got little or no raise, depending on business success, and my manager’s assessment of my performance. As a matter of fact, my health benefits were frozen in 2006, as well as the benefits for salaried retirees. These benefits were slashed by 2/3 at the direction of the auto task force.
        I appreciate that UAW contracts pushed GM to improve comp for salaried folks, too and wish it could have gone on for ever for all of us. I am angry that the UAW didn’t dial down demands to allow the businesses to make it.
        I don’t agree with some of you comments, but am not claiming management made no mistakes. My goal is to enlighten by pointing out that it was CAFE and UAW power that forced all three US makers to build loss making small cars in country while competitors got to import them, necessitating a focus on highly profitable trucks to cover the small car losses. There are a lot of apparently “stupid” moves made by US makers as a result of forces not understood, or even recognized by most people.

        There are a number of reasons for market share loss, certainly including managmement failings. My point about the UAW’s role in driving the industry down is that NO business can be forced to build product at a loss, suffer volume erosion due to global competition, or, yes, poor decisions, and then be forced to pay an ever INCREASING labor bill without going down. Not trying to make value judgements but to lay out what really happened.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Dr Olds…..From your level, you certainly had a better view on the situation,than I from my level. Yes, the UAW/CAW should have come around a little earlier.

        What I saw from my level,was a whole lot of money wasted. The “fiefdoms” run by egotistical maniacs, I can only hope are a thing of the past. I see where dealers have cleaned up thier act.

        I only hope that the mistakes of the past are gone and stay gone.

        Anyway Doc, keep posting. Your great asset here.

        Mikey

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @mikey- thanks. my level was just in the middle, but my assignments gave me lots of access to leadership and decision making. there is no doubt that GM could have been more efficient in ways you probably saw close up. Sometimes the reasons aren’t clear, and sometimes they actually are just stupid. my dad went to olds from saginaw steering gear in ’61 and told lots of stories about egos and spendthrift attitudes in engineering. of course, he recalled a time at ssg when they made you turn in a wooden pencil to get a new one, and it better not be too long either! GM had plenty of cultural problems the reorg of ’84 was supposed to help address. when smith bought EDS, a hoped for side benefit was to change the culture of a massive and far flung GM. Most of us, UAW, Salary, whatever, just wanted a good days pay for a good days work. Too bad the system got so out of balance.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Nicely stated. That there are people that can disagree with your position is pretty much our doom.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        If there’s one thing that November 6 showed me, it’s that America is truly doomed unless roughly 10% percent of the country either have a sudden burst of intelligence and common sense, or get exterminated like so much vermin.

        There is no reasoning with anyone who believes Santa Claus exists inside a union hall, or lives at 1600 Penn.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        And The Nazi of the Month Award goes to….”Volts on Fire”, aplause, cheers, quite down now, make sure you read the fine print (aka, better hope you’re not one of those brown shirt ones, things didn’t work out to well for them, seems the black shirts (eventual SS), enjoyed watching them cower in the corners in between beetings and eventual killing).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    All those bridges you drive over? Built by tradesmen making union scale or prevailing wage. Naw, lets go for the lowest bidder. I’m pretty sure the non-union guys have the training and experience the union guys do. They’ll be able to work safe around I beams and meet quotas hanging rebar. Read a blueprint and understand engineering specs? Gotta save money man. Not trained, not as skilled? It doesn’t matter! We’re saving money.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The trade unions are the model for how all unions ideally would work. The trade unions train their workers, provide benefits for their workers and provide pensions for their workers.

      If you want to hire a trade union worker you don’t have to guarantee him or her a job at all. You can hire him or her Monday and let him or her go Tuesday, if he or she is not a good worker, or you no longer need him or her.

      But, while you find that trade union member’s services valuable you have to pay him or her the union wage.

      The problem that the UAW caused was never the wages it demanded. It was that redudant or poor workers could not be laid off.

  • avatar

    Interesting. On one hand majority of people voted for Obama and therefore for union agenda and socialist/green utopia and on the other hand for laws to defeat his agenda. But never in California. Now it is officially one party system not unlike Soviet Union and its former satellites. Though we don’t give a damn about unions which are mostly for uneducated masses who do not care about results we still managed to vote to increase state taxes on ourselves. Note that many families in CA make close or over 250K and are as greedy as everyone else yet they passionately demand to increase taxes on themselves or their employers (well think about layoffs).

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    $856.00 or $71.33 per month. That is how much I pay in UAW union dues. I would gladly pay more; and if my employer doesn’t want to take it out of my paycheck, I’ll gladly set up a direct withdrawn from my bank account to pay for it.
    There are too many people here that think we pay some exorbitant fee for what I will call a compensation package worthy of a first world country.

    All you naysayers, please tell me where you can get a Lawyer that will negotiate your wages, healthcare, pension, working conditions, etc for $856.00 per year. Please tell me.

    I can’t began to tell you some of the benefits $856.00 a year provides my family. Allergy shots for one of my kids is covered. Rehab for my daughters knees. Expensive migraine medication for my wife. Hospitalization, MRI’s and on and on.

    $856.00 a year. That is less than a Coffee at Starbucks per day!

    • 0 avatar
      DJTragicMike

      Like I said above, things are so hard for everyone around the country, I can’t help but think there is an element of jealousy. The American worker has been so screwed nonstop for the past 40 years that they’ve gotten used to the idea of not having bargaining power.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    So one can assume Big Labor is not “PRO CHOICE” and thus hate women LOL

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Another reason not to buy UAW built vehicles:

    Chrysler workers fired for drinking and doing drugs back on job against automaker’s wishes [w/video] [UPDATE]

    “How could an arbitrator possibly side with the fired workers? Much like the automaker itself, we’re at a loss for words”.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2012/12/10/chrysler-workers-fired-for-drinking-back-on-job-against-automake/


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