Tea-Publican Tyranny in Michigan: D-Day in GOP war on organized labor

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

GOPropaganda wordsmith Frank Luntz is frequently credited with coming up with focus group tested bumper sticker slogans that Republicans have used to great effect with low information voters. But the GOP has been doing this since long before anyone ever heard of Frank Luntz.

A classic example is the so-called "right to work" laws that have been around since 1947, when the first Republican Congress since the Great Depression enacted the National Labor Relations Act (aka Taft-Hartley Act), which outlawed the "closed shop" and gave states the right to outlaw "union security agreements,"  or agreements between labor unions and employers that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

The Taft-Hartley Act allows for "union shop" and "agency shop," i.e., a union may require that employees either join the union or pay the
equivalent of union dues. Nonmembers who object to that requirement may
be compelled to pay only that portion of union dues that is attributable
to the cost of representing employees in collective bargaining and in
providing services to all represented employees, but not, with certain
exceptions, to the union's political activities or organizing employees
of other employers.

But Section 14(b) of the Taft–Hartley Act authorized individual states to outlaw the union shop and agency shop for employees working in their jurisdictions. An employee cannot be compelled to join or pay the equivalent of dues to a union.

"Right to work" is a sick joke. It is more accurate to describe it as the “freedom to freeload.” 23 states, mostly the old Confederacy and mining states in the West have adopted "freedom to freeload" laws, including Arizona.

The so-called "right to work" is really a "right to work for less" as President Obama stated in a trip to Redford, Michigan on Monday. As President Obama accurately pointed out, it creates a race to the bottom, which is exactly what Tea-Publicans want: they have always been "the party of low wages." Remarks by the President at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant, Redford, MI:

And by the way, what we shouldn’t do — I just got to say this — what
we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for
better wages and working conditions.  (Applause.)  We shouldn’t be doing
that.  (Applause.)  These so-called “right to work” laws, they don't
have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics. 
(Applause.) What they're really talking about is giving you the right to
work for less money.  (Applause.)

* * *

America is not going to compete based on low-skill, low-wage, no
workers’ rights.  That's not our competitive advantage. There’s always
going to be some other country that can treat its workers even worse. 
Right? 

AUDIENCE:  Right!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s going to make us succeed is we got the best
workers — well trained, reliable, productive, low turnover, healthy. 
That's what makes us strong.  And it also is what allows our workers
then to buy the products that we make because they got enough money in
their pockets.  (Applause.)

The Detroit Free Press recently published this graphic.

Screenshot from 2012-12-11 08:24:15Screenshot from 2012-12-11 08:25:48

Here are some more stats:

Screenshot from 2012-12-11 07:25:12

The right-wing assault on organized labor over the years has a direct correlation to the decline of America's middle class.

Screenshot from 2012-12-11 07:23:31

h/t The ED Show for graphics

Think Progress recently reported Corporate Profits Hit Record High While Worker Wages Hit Record Low:

In the third quarter of this year, “corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion,
up 18.6% from a year ago.” Corporations are currently making more as a
percentage of the economy than they ever have since such records were
kept. But at the same time, wages as a percentage of the economy are at
an all-time low
, as this chart shows. (The red line is corporate
profits; the blue line is private sector wages.):

Corporateprofitsvswages1

Corporations made a record $824 billion in profits last year as well, while the stock market has had one of its best performances since 1900 while Obama has been in office.

Meanwhile, workers are getting the short end of the stick. As CNN
Money explained, “a separate government reading shows that total wages
have now fallen to a record low of 43.5% of GDP. Until 1975, wages
almost always accounted for at least half of GDP, and had been as high as 49% as recently as early 2001.”

This is what the GOP war on organized labor has done to the American middle class and the American economy.

In addition to President Obama meeting with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on the tarmac on Monday, the state's Democratic Congressional leadership met with the Governor Snyder on Monday to urge him to either veto the so-called right to work bill, defer its
passage until next term, or to take the appropriations provision out of the bill that makes
the law referendum-proof to allow Michigan residents to put the matter to a vote. Marcy Wheeler reports at Empty Wheel, Levin Brothers: Rick Snyder Doesn’t Understand How Unions Work:

[T]he most interesting point that Senator Levin made–which his brother,
Congressman Sander Levin elaborated on–is that Snyder doesn’t understand
how unions work. “The Governor in his statement
[last week] said it incorrectly” Sandy said, when he suggested workers
would lose their job if they didn’t join a union. “And today I still
don’t think he understands.” Sandy continued. Congressman Levin went on
to remind that the principle that workers could not be forced to join a
union has been enshrined since he and then-Governor George Romney negotiated collective bargaining law back in 1965.

The Detroit Free Press, which endorsed Rick Snyder for governor and has stood by him since his election even when he pushed the anti-democratic emergency financial manager law (financial martial law), excoriated Snyder in a front page editorial opinion for this lame-duck session to pass a right to work law in Michigan. Editorial: A failure of leadership: Snyder's about-face on right-to-work betrays voters:

Two years ago, a newly elected Rick Snyder told the Free Press
editorial board he was determined to be a new kind of governor — a
pragmatist focused like a laser on initiatives that promised to raise
standards of living for all Michiganders.

And until last week, we believed him.

For
two years, we supported Snyder as he took painful steps to restore
Michigan's fiscal stability and confront a crisis in which plunging tax
revenues and mounting obligations to retired workers threatened to
cripple the state's cities and school districts.

* * *

In short, we trusted Snyder's judgment.

That trust has now been
betrayed — for us, and for the hundreds of thousand of independents who
voted for Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone
more independent, and more visionary, than partisan apparatchiks like
Wisconsin's Scott Walker or Florida's Rick Scott.

Last week, in an
abrupt about-face Snyder's defenders said was born of his frustration
with organized labor, the governor unleashed a legislative blitzkrieg
that seems certain to bring a bill barring closed-shop contracts to his
desk next week.

He has already promised to sign it.

Watching Snyder explain his right-to-work reversal was disturbing on several levels.

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests
of unionized workers and "bring Michiganders together" was grotesquely
disingenuous; even as he spoke, security personnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder's ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation —
it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers' freedom of
association — was equally dishonest.

The real motive of Michigan's right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is "pure greed" — the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party's most reliable source of financial and organizational support.

* * *

Like the failed labor initiative it seeks to avenge, Snyder's
right-to-work legislation is an attempt to institutionalize Republicans'
current political advantage. Everything else is window dressing, and
most of these diversionary talking points are demonstrably false.

The
argument that right-to-work status makes states more competitive or
prosperous is refuted by a mountain of evidence that shows right-to-work
states trailing their union-friendly counterparts in key metrics like
per capita wealth, poverty rates and health insurance coverage.

* * *

Snyder has long acknowledged that steamrolling right-to-work legislation
through the Legislature would have enduring negative consequences for
productive collaboration between workers and employees. His decision to
embrace such legislation now destroys, in an eye blink, the trusting
relationship he and his business allies have struggled to establish.

* * *

Michigan voters who provided Snyder's margin of victory in 2010 feel betrayed, and they have every justification. If he was ever serious about being the governor who brought Michiganders together, Snyder has just sent himself back to Square One.

Rachel Maddow provided an excellent summary of the Tea-Publican tyranny in Michigan on Monday night in this segment, which includes an interview with Andy Potter, Vice President of the Michigan Corrections Organization and chair of the SEIU Republican Advisory Committee — you read that right, a pro-union Republican. Keep in mind that the proposed right to work law exempts public safety unions, which tend to support Republicans, in an attempt to divide unions.

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