Monday, December 10, 2012

Right To Work States

Senator from Kentucky, which is, strangely, not a right to work state.

The following states are "right-to-work" states:
Anything strike you about this list?
Well, one thing it doesn't yet have Michigan on it, but it soon may.
A "right to work" state has a law or constitutional provision which says that a worker whose wages have been negotiated by a union does not have to pay union dues.  The unions, of course, say that worker has benefited from their services without paying for them. The workers say, we never asked for them. You negotiated for yourself, and if I benefited, well how does that hurt you?  The unions say, if you don't have to pay union dues, why should anyone else? Pretty soon, without our being able to collect for our services, we are out of business.

Actually, as sympathetic as I am to unions, and as important as unions are, I can see the argument that a person should not be forced to join any organization to work. On the other than, that same person is forced to sign a contract with an employer, often a very one sided contract, if he wants work. Why should the employer be the only force holding trump cards? Why not allow a countervailing force have some play?

But setting aside the fairness, the right or wrong--and I do not think for a moment this a matter of right and wrong--it is a simply matter of power and who is allowed to have power, employers, unions, individuals who want to work but who don't like feeling they are not in control.

Setting aside all those considerations, it is interesting how tightly these states match another map of the country: Virginia is the only state on this list which voted for Obama, and Virginia voted for Obama in the Washington, DC suburbs, mostly.  So the folks who are voting against union power are the Confederacy, the far West, mountain cowboy states.  They are the states with the poorest people, the most ignorant populations (or, to put it more gently, the least educated people) and the most reactionary politics. 
There is, of course, Florida, but that state is even more schizophrenic than Virginia, and is a Confederate state, at least until January and February, so we can forget about Florida. They don't even know how to count votes in Florida. I'm not sure who they really voted for in the last election.
But it is curious that these downtrodden, poor, low earning people should reject unions.  One would think they would have the most to gain. Why would these bottom feeders reject unions?
Perhaps it is because these people have an inferiority complex. They, on some level, know they are uneducated, un competitive and they are grateful for any job on any terms and they do not feel worthy. Instead of demeaning them, and calling them bottom feeders and saying they are all  ignorant and inbred and stupid, we should ask them why they reject unions. 
Maybe we'd learn something.
Maybe we'd hear something intelligent, like, well Honda would not have built their plant here, Boeing would not have built their plant here if they saw we had unions. So what they are saying is, we are so down trodden, we are just happy to have any job, on any terms,  and we do not want to seem too pushy, because we are selling humility, tractability and we are willing to take the jobs those pushy Blue state workers are arrogant enough to spurn. 
Of course, they are playing the game of not paying their union dues but reaping the benefit of union action. Let the unions fight the fight and we'll sit down here and look oh so attractive because we are not them.
I don't know. I'm not an economist or political scientist. I just look at that list and try to imagine what makes the workers in the Confederacy and those cowboy states look different from the workers in the Blue states.
Do you have an answer?


  1. Mad Dog,
    You frequently write about the importance of messaging-and I agree. The opponents of Right to Work bills should consistently refer to them as the Right to Work for Less Money bills-let people be constantly reminded of what they in the long term are voting for. I also agree that some of the support for no unions is not ideological as much as economic--they just want the jobs and see that as the only way they will entice companies to come to their towns, and they're probably right. I don't know how you convince people to turn down the chance for a job for the long term gain of all workers...

  2. Maud,

    This is a serious problem for unions, not yet solved. You do the heavy lifting--other people benefit. Intellectual property, patent law, the music industry all struggle with it. In the case of Monsanto, if their pollen blows in the fields of the farmer next door, Monsanto crucifies the farmer using laws passed by Congressmen owned by Monsanto. Labor does not own enough Congressmen, or state representatives, apparently.

    Mad Dog