Forced-Unionism California’s Economic Debacle Getting Harder to Whitewash

For many years, apologists for California’s forced-unionism status quo have sought to downplay the significance of the ongoing transfer of the Golden State’s traditional manufacturing jobs and mid-level managerial jobs to other states with less burdensome taxes and more reasonable living costs.  The bulk of California’s job losses due to domestic competition have gone to Right to Work states.

Union-label politicians like current Big Labor Gov. Jerry Brown have suggested time and again that Californians shouldn’t worry, because losses of traditional industrial and managerial jobs can be “offset by the creative industries, notably Hollywood and Silicon Valley,” as demographer and commentator Joel Kotkin explained in a column this weekend for the Orange County (Calif.) Register.

This excuse has always been of questionable validity.  While Hollywood and Silicon Valley both generate enormous profits for shareholders, they haven’t generated nearly enough California jobs to prevent the net out-migration of millions of employees and their family members  to other states, mostly Right to Work states, since 1990.  Employees flee California with their families in large part because they’re confident they can find jobs that pay better, when regional differences in living costs are taken into account, in Right to Work states.

Toyota’s announcement last week that it would pull its U.S. headquarters out of the L.A. metro area in favor of greater Dallas in Right to Work Texas will make it even harder for Gov. Brown and his allies to whitewash California’s economic debacle.

As Kotkin emphasized in his column, the growth of U.S. “Third Coast” ports (Houston, Mobile Ala., New Orleans and Tampa, Fla.) leaves international manufacturers like Toyota far less in need of maintaining a major presence on the West Coast “to ship components or cars in and out of the central U.S.”

Kotkin added that what is “more troubling still” for California

is the logic, both on the part of Nissan and Toyota, linking headquarters operations – with their marketing, design and tech-oriented jobs – closer to their industrial facilities in the south and Midwest. Toyota, for example, has a large truck plant in San Antonio as well as auto assembly plants throughout the mid-South. Honda, now the last major Japanese carmaker with a Southern California headquarters, last year also moved a number of executives from Torrance to Columbus, Ohio, closer to the company’s prime Marysville, Ohio, production hub.

If California’s marketing, design and tech-oriented jobs follow the lead of its manufacturing production and middle-management jobs by heading out of the state over the next few years for more hospitable Right to Work employment and business climates, the debacle will be severe enough that even the Jerry Browns of this world will no longer be able to claim that all is well in the Golden State.  And California’s forced-unionism status quo will no longer be impregnable to serious political challenges.

Joel Kotkin: Taking a back seat to Texas