In the current issue of USA Today, Paul Davidson reports that, for a variety of reasons, the U.S. “is becoming a manufacturing hotbed for dozens of foreign companies in aerospace, energy, chemicals and other sectors.” (See the link below for the whole story.)
In addition to benefiting from low energy costs and an economy that, while weak, is growing even as most European economies are shrinking, America is attractive to foreign investors because 24 of the 50 states have Right to Work laws on the books.
Right to Work laws prohibit Big Labor from getting workers fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to a union they would never join voluntarily. Without such compulsion, successful union organizing isn’t automatically profitable for Big Labor, and that’s one important reason why even historically unionized jobs in the aerospace industry are frequently union-free in facilities built in Right to Work states.
In Europe, as experts cited by Davidson point out, monopolistic union contracts “often limit workers to single, repetitive tasks, increasing labor costs . . . .” The same is true, of course in union stronghold regions of the U.S.
But a new Rolls-Royce factory located in Prince George County in Right to Work Virginia is union-free. The factory, which makes jet engine discs largely for export to Europe, is one of the “super-modern facilities with the best working practices” that are springing up with increasing frequency in Right to Work states:
The company’s gleaming, $170 million factory in rural Prince George employs 100 and looks nothing like the . . . textile, tobacco or furniture plants that were the region’s economic lifeblood decades ago. On a sprawling, spotless white factory floor, rows of hulking computerized machines cut and shape discs that cost $25,000 to $75,000 apiece. . . . Two [workers] can operate eight machines at a time and 12 make up a shift.
While automation is part of the story, the Southeast also offered Rolls-Royce a flexible work environment. In Virginia and other Southern right-to-work states where union representation is low, factory employees typically can both set up and operate a machine, as well as run multiple machines.
Foreign companies plant roots in the US