Saturday, February 28, 2015

Class War and the "Right-to-Work" Law Comes to Wisconsin

Every time I see the word “right-to-work” it brings me back to 1981 and my first academic publication “Capitalists Versus Unions: An Analysis of Anti-Union Political Mobilization” with my mentor Richard Ratcliff at Washington University. 

But enough about me.

Fast forward -- and the class war continues unabated.

It is remarkable that after the 2008 economic crisis that was fueled by inequality and a war on labor, is a demand-side crisis still painfully lingering as a result of continuing inequality and wage stagnation, the forces of darkness would continue to believe that we are in a supply-side crisis that instead requires more anti-labor legislation and a better "business climate" for capital. 

In 2012, Michigan, home of the United Auto Workers, passed a “right-to-work” law. Now Wisconsin, home to the progressive legacy of Robert LaFollette, is on the verge of passing the law.

The always reliable Economic Policy Institute has a good analysis of the issue. Here is an overview:

RTW laws have nothing to do with anyone being forced to be a member of a union, or forced to pay even a penny to political causes they do not support; that’s already illegal under federal law. What RTW laws do is to make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to negotiate a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefit of the contract to pay his or her share of the costs of negotiating and policing it. By making it harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially, RTW laws aim to restrict the share of employees who are able to represent themselves through collective bargaining, and to limit the effectiveness of unions in negotiating higher wages and benefits for their members.

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