Forced-Unionism Issue Looms Large For 2012

Right to Work Committee Begins Lobbying Presidential Hopefuls

(Source: July 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)

This summer, New Hampshire is the site of an extended battle over the Right to Work issue, as pro-Right to Work citizens seek to secure two-thirds majority votes in the state House and Senate to override Big Labor Gov. John Lynch’s veto of legislation (H.B.474) prohibiting compulsory union dues and fees.

Because Right to Work has been in the New Hampshire news since both chambers of the state’s General Court approved H.B.474 earlier this year, WMUR-TV (ABC) news anchor Josh McElveen decided to bring up the issue at the June 13 GOP presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

Mr. McElveen asked former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, one of the seven 2012 presidential hopefuls participating in the debate, whether he would, if elected, support “a federal Right to Work law.”

Mr. Pawlenty ignited the debate’s longest and most enthusiastic round of applause with his response:

“We live in the United States of America, and people shouldn’t be forced to belong [to] or be a member in any organization, and the government has no business telling people what group you have to be a member of or not.

“I support strongly Right to Work legislation.”

Mr. Pawlenty thus became the fourth major-party White House aspirant in the 2012 race to endorse repeal of all current provisions in federal labor law that authorize the firing of employees for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.

Previously, the two sitting U.S. representatives seeking the GOP nomination, Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas), had pledged to support a national Right to Work law. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is yet another candidate who has gone on record for forced-dues repeal.

Millions of Citizens Want ‘a Clear Alternative’ to Pro-Forced Unionism Obama Administration

The enthusiastic response for Mr. Pawlenty’s principled stance, evident in a CNN “dial test” of Republicans and Independents watching on TV as well as in the auditorium itself, is something to which all the candidates should pay heed, said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.

“Millions of Americans want a clear alternative to the Obama Administration’s relentless promotion of compulsory unionism,” Mr. Mix explained.

“Ever since he became President two-and-a-half years ago, Barack Obama has repeatedly championed Big Labor power grabs in Congress and appointed forced-unionism zealots to leadership positions at the National Labor Relations Board, the Labor Department, and other federal bureaucracies.

“Polls show the vast majority of Americans who regularly vote in federal elections believe the Obama Administration is just plain wrong to favor forcing workers to pay union dues to get a job.

“Freedom-loving Americans don’t favor a federal policy of ‘neutrality’ on the question of whether or not workers should be corralled into unions.

“Instead, they believe all federal labor laws should either protect the individual worker’s right to join or not join a union, or be scrapped completely.

“So far, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul have grasped this point. Over the coming months, Committee members in key primary states will be doing everything they can to ensure all the other candidates reach the same conclusion.”

Right to Work States ‘Attract the Most Productive Members of Society’

In addition to the fact that it is repugnant for the government, as Mr. Pawlenty succinctly put it, to tell people “what group you have to be a member of or not,” pro-forced unionism federal labor policies put the brakes on job and income growth. This effect is especially harmful as employees and businesses strive to recover from the severe 2008-2009 recession.

The disparate economic performance of the 22 states with Right to Work laws (explicitly permitted under Section 14(b) of the federal Taft-Hartley Act), which ban forced union dues and fees, and the 28 states without such laws provides a telling, though incomplete, gauge of the damage wrought by forced unionism.

From 2000 to 2010, the inflation-adjusted outlays of private-sector businesses for employee compensation (including wages, salaries, benefits and bonuses) increased by an average of 11.8% in Right to Work states.

That increase is nine times as great as forced-unionism states’ combined 1.3% gain over the same period.

Twenty of the 22 Right to Work states experienced a real compensation increase greater than the national average of 4.9%. And 14 of the 15 states with the lowest real compensation growth lack a Right to Work law.

Because they offer superior opportunities for employees and entrepreneurs, Right to Work states “attract the most productive members of society,” as economist Arthur Laffer, Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore, and tax policy expert Jonathan Williams note in a new report.

Even Right to Work States Are Hurt by Federal Pro-Forced Unionism Policies

From 1998 to 2008, as Dr. Laffer, Mr. Moore, and Mr. Williams point out in the just-published fourth edition of Rich States, Poor States, which they prepared for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):

“[T]he population of 25-34 year olds in right-to-work states increased by 16.0 percent (from 14.361 million to 16.654 million), while the population in that age bracket for forced union states fell by 0.6 percent (from 24.32 million to 24.17 million).”

“While the 28 states that still fail to shield employees from federal pro-forced unionism labor policies naturally suffer the most as a consequence of those policies, the whole country is harmed,” noted Mr. Mix.

“Union bosses funnel a huge chunk of the forced dues and fees they collect with federal labor law’s abetment into politics. And the union-label politicians who routinely get elected and reelected because of Big Labor’s forced dues-funded support overwhelmingly favor higher taxes and more red-tape regulation of businesses.

“This is true at the federal, state and local levels. Private-sector job growth in all 50 states, including Right to Work states, is hindered by the actions of Big Labor federal politicians.

“Moreover, in today’s globalized economy, when union-boss militancy squashes job-creating business in a state, some investment is likely to go overseas. Then no American workers end up getting the jobs or income.

“For economic reasons as well as for moral reasons, Committee members are fighting to repeal all federal labor law provisions that authorize compulsory union dues and fee payments as a job condition, as well as to pass more state Right to Work laws.

“The two federal forced-dues repeal measures now pending in Congress, H.R. 2040 and S.504, would spur job growth in all 50 states. Businesses in current Right to Work states would share the benefits as their out-of-state customers and suppliers were freed from the burden of compulsory unionism.”

Right to Work Movement Strong, Growing in Early 2012 Presidential Battlegrounds

Mr. Mix said he was “optimistic” that several more 2012 hopefuls would soon join Ms. Bachmann, Mr. Pawlenty, Mr. Johnson, and Dr. Paul in endorsing a federal Right to Work law.

“The fact is, the three first battleground states in the presidential primaries — Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — are all home to extraordinarily vibrant, growing Right to Work movements,” Mr. Mix explained.

“All the 2012 candidates, whether they are already in the race or enter some time in the next few months, will have to take into account the large numbers of Iowans, New Hampshirites, and South Carolinians who regard Right to Work as a critical issue.

“Those who are savvy politicians, and aren’t so deep in hock to Big Labor that their freedom of action is constrained, should logically respond to the reality on the ground by coming out in favor of a national Right to Work law.”