Right to Work on the March in Statehouses

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(Source: February 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)

Economic Reality Puts Compulsory-Unionism Apologists on Defensive

In a hand-wringing January 21 commentary for the leftist Huffington Post, international Teamster chieftain Jim Hoffa joined the ranks of prominent union officials bemoaning the recent introduction of legislation prohibiting forced union dues and fees in state capitols across America.

Mr. Hoffa called on his militant followers to “fight like h***” against what he called “dangerous attacks.” In reality, of course, the Right to Work measures he decried would do nothing more than prohibit firing or denying a job to an employee simply because he or she refuses to join or bankroll an unwanted union.

Echoing the rhetoric of his late father Jimmy Hoffa, who filled out his last four years as Teamster czar while serving a federal prison term for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud, Mr. Hoffa proffered a conspiracy theory about why Right to Work legislation is being considered in so many states this year.

“A coordinated network of think tanks, business groups, [and other organizations] has for years been working toward passing these right-to-work … laws. Leading the charge is National Right to Work,” he fumed.

Greg Mourad, legislative director for the National Right to Work Committee, said he was flattered by Mr. Hoffa’s willingness to give the Committee the lion’s share of the credit for the proliferation of Right to Work measures in statehouses this year, but added that the real story is rather different.

‘Ever-Mounting Evidence Indicates Forced Unionism Stifles Economic Growth’

“It’s true that the persistence and determination of the 2.6 million Committee members around the country are an important part of the reason why there are substantial and well-coordinated efforts to pass Right to Work laws underway in Missouri, Montana, Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin this year,” said Mr. Mourad.

“And to that already impressive list, you should add Maine and New Hampshire, two states in the Northeast, the only region of the country that hasn’t had any Right to Work laws up to now.

“Plus there are now burgeoning efforts to pass Right to Work legislation in the longtime Big Labor stronghold states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Then there’s Colorado, where the Right to Work movement is now slowly regaining strength after a well-intentioned, but misguided and unsuccessful bid in 2008 to prohibit forced union dues and fees through a statewide ballot initiative.

“Big Labor is now busy battling Right to Work legislative campaigns in roughly a dozen of the 28 remaining forced-unionism states partly because of grass-roots activists, who are being assisted by the National Committee, but fundamentally because of economic reality.

“The fact is, ever-mounting evidence indicates forced unionism stifles economic growth. This is the case regardless of whether you compare the 22 states with Right to Work laws already on the books with forced-unionism states nationwide, or only with those located within the same region.”

More and More Citizens Recognize Their States Require Fundamental Reform

“Take the Midwest, where several of the most advanced state Right to Work campaigns are now underway,” Mr. Mourad continued.

“The last decade was undeniably tough for this region.

“But from 1999 to 2009, the five Midwestern Right to Work states experienced aggregate private-sector job growth of 2.3%. Over the same period, the seven Midwestern forced-unionism states lost 8.1% of their private-sector jobs.

“Forced-unionism states are lagging behind Right to Work states partially because Big Labor’s counterproductive work rules and fomentation of the ‘hate-the-boss’ mentality lead to slower revenue growth in the unionized businesses themselves.

“On top of that, union bosses funnel a huge portion of the forced dues and fees they collect into efforts to elect and reelect state and local, as well as federal, politicians who support more forced unionism, higher taxes, and more red-tape regulation of business.

“In today’s slow-growth national economy, such impediments hurt forced-unionism states more severely than they have in the past.

“That’s why more and more citizens recognize their states need fundamental reform.

“And that’s the basic problem for Jim Hoffa and company. The role of the Committee and its members is simply to help mobilize popular opposition to forced unionism and make it more effective.”