Why An Anti-Unionist Would Want A Job In A Union Shop

In the continued discussion around the Right to Freeload bill expected to come up for discussion in Madison this January, when the topic of worker freedom gets bandied about…no one from the right ever seems to suggest that an anti-union employee has the right to find a job in a non-union shop…and there are more non-union shops in Wisconsin than union shops.

And can you guess why? It’s because they KNOW that union shops provide better wages, better benefits, better working conditions and safer working conditions…they’d just rather be takers and not earn their rights to better conditions.

Jessica McBride On What’s Wrong With Right To Work

(Yes that Jessica McBride)…in a blog piece for OnMilwaukee.com, Jessica McBride opines on all of the things that Governor Scott Walker can’t seem to make up his mind about. You can read the whole article if you like…it does have a certain entertainment value…but here are her opinions on the misnamed mission of destiny for the Madison GOP. Her apparent right leaning support also comes with a caveat…not everyone in favor seems to miss the inequality involved:

Walker’s comments about right-to-work being a distraction ARE the distraction. And who cares if it’s a distraction if it’s the right thing to do. That’s what I want to know: Does Gov. Walker think this is the right thing to do? You can’t even argue in this one that Walker’s dodging it because he wants to maintain a strict economic emphasis. This one affects the economy.

For the record, I generally support right-to-work legislation. I don’t believe union membership should be compulsory, nor union dues either, especially since the money and support goes to organizations largely supporting one political side. If studies universally showed disastrous results occurring in other right-to-work states, that might be one thing, but they don’t – they are mixed at best. So I side with freedom, not forced membership.

Opponents argue that it’s unfair for employees to benefit from a union’s work if they don’t help pay for the union; frankly, I wish there could be a provision whereby workers who don’t belong to the union don’t get the union-negotiated benefits. (When I was a newspaper reporter, by the way, we weren’t forced to join the union. Other employees pressured us to do so, though. Weird, then, that the newspaper editorial board opposes right-to-work for everyone else.)

I do not, however, agree with Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald’s comments that he might try to exempt only some unions that support Republicans. That’s just wrong, and it provides an unseemly overlay that takes this one from the realm of principle into the world of political (similarly, I thought Act 10 should have applied to cops and firefighters too). I also don’t agree with rushing right-to-work legislation through. Give people time to weigh in this time. And I don’t like the fact, at all, that Republicans didn’t run on this in the last election and then sprang it on the public. Those are questions of process, but they are certainly troubling ones. So I support right-to-work, but not in the exact way they are going about it.

So we should have right to work…and too bad that non-union supporters would be able to opt out of paying dues but not the union benefits (as long time reader nonquixote had pointed out: that would violate federal law)…and it’s unfair to exempt the unions who supported the GOP this past cycle…somewhere in there is a sense of fair play. Considering all of things she sees wrong…including admitting the economic effects are mixed…it’s really hard to see why she finds the wherewithal to support it!

Highway Builders Veer Left While GOP Hews Right

An interesting little article popped up in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning. Apparently a fair number of Wisconsin union firms including construction and highway builders aren’t that excited about the misnamed Right to Work bill being wined and dined by the GOP in Madison:

Some 300 construction and contracting businesses Wednesday joined their workers’ unions in opposing so-called right-to-work legislation.

The businesses that make roads and buildings around the state said they oppose a proposal that would prohibit them from reaching contracts with unions to require their workers to pay labor dues.

The formation of the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition highlights a split in the business community in the state, where manufacturers appear poised to push the labor measure through the Legislature and builders and unions are scrambling to try to stop it.

Steve Lyons, a consultant serving as the coalition’s spokesman, said the group had gathered members in a matter of days as it became clear that momentum is building to pass the union proposal in the Republican-dominated Legislature. More are joining, he said.

“In 10 days, 300 private businesses have said we don’t want right-to-work,” Lyons said.

The reason, he said, is that unions act in some ways like staffing agencies for construction businesses, providing training to workers, screening them for drugs and ensuring that enough of them will show up to work when a contractor wins a bid on a project and needs workers to carry it out.

Companies in the coalition include Miron Construction Co. Inc. of Middleton, Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc. of Plain, and Riley Construction Co. of Kenosha.

Lyons declined to say which labor unions were part of the coalition and which businesses or unions are paying for the coalition’s work. He said no decisions have been made yet about whether the coalition would pay for ads to counter messages being broadcast by a group favoring the change.

And it also sounds like they aren’t ready to accept the hypocrisy of the GOP who suggested that some unions would be exempted from the law:

Lyons said his group flatly opposed a right-to-work bill, even if it contained an exemption for construction unions such as the one floated by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) this month.

AND part of their rationale is support of small government…something the GOP is willing to forgo at the drop of a buck or two:

“Government shouldn’t get involved in a contract between two private entities,” he said.

Not all marriages of convenience are meant to last!

Madison GOP Creating A New Breed Of Taker

As the Madison GOP fast tracks their right to freeload law…they are creating a new breed…someone who takes a good paying job with good benefits…but doesn’t want to pay the costs for the work that goes into earning that pay and those benefits…in other words…a TAKER!

Stop The Presses: Wisconsinites Have The Right To Work!

Despite the illusions being cast by Republicans in Madison, Wisconsinites already possess the right to work…they can apply for any job they want…they can accept any job offered to them…they can negotiate any pay/benefit package they are willing to accept…they can accept or not accept any promotions offered…they can quit any time they want…they can retire! Go figure! The are FREE!

A Question for Christian Schneider on “Right to Work”

by Jay Bullock

Hi, Christian. Thanks for stopping by to address my question. I appreciate it. You and I obviously disagree on the “Right to Work” bill–I call it the “Right to Freeload” bill–and I’m really hoping you can help me understand where you’re coming from.

I give you credit. A lot of people promoting the “Right to Freeload Work” bill are willing to straight-up lie about it. This includes the people running that Wisconsin Right to Work group, the long-time shady WISGOP operatives who go all the way back to the days of David Wilcox and Mark Block and postcards that broke the law, who are claiming that states with these laws have higher average wages. They don’t. PolitiFact Ohio smacked down a Buckeye State GOPer for trying to claim last year that they did. Ohio passed its bill anyway, and we’ll have to watch to see what happens to their wages–I predict, like Wile E. Coyote, they will plummet.

But you don’t claim that. That’s where I give you credit. Here’s what you say instead:

Any honest assessment of right-to-work recognizes that it’s not a panacea. States with such laws often have lower average wages as unions fade away. But higher employment rates in exchange for wages that aren’t inflated is a deal the state should accept. A slight decline in wages is an acceptable cost if it results in more people getting family-supporting paychecks.

So your point, if I can paraphrase, is that lower wages are basically worth it if we can have lower unemployment. (Although “slight decline” is pushing it: the BLS (pdf) tells us that non-union wages are $10,000 lower than union wages, and non-union jobs have a much higher gender wage gap, for your war on women notes.)

Anyway, that’s where my question comes in: So why does Wisconsin need right to work, then?

I mean, didn’t we just have an election (or three) about Wisconsin’s employment situation, and haven’t you as much as anyone else been telling us all along that Wisconsin’s employment situation is awesome?

Wasn’t that you who wrote that “Walker was … right” about having great jobs numbers on his side? And that Wisconsin’s jobs “jobs have been growing at a reasonable clip”? To give you more credit, and Walker some credit, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is actually lower that the national average and, in fact, lower than that of any of our right-to-work neighbors except Iowa. We’re beating Indiana just fine and spanking Michigan in that regard. If you insist on counting Ohio, we’re basically tied with them.

If Wisconsin is doing fine in the jobs department, especially since we’re doing better than most of the right-to-work states near us and like us, why do we need to change anything? Is there much room for growth in jobs here, or are we really just talking about cutting wages for those already working?

Or, given that the neighbor state that is doing the best in this regard, Minnesota (3.9% unemployment versus our 5.4%), is both not a right to freeload work state but a liberal haven that raised taxes and the minimum wage and embraced the agenda of the teachers union, wouldn’t it be smarter to model our state on their success rather than Indiana’s failure?

Also, wasn’t it you who insisted, seriously and sarcastically, that there’s actually not much the government could actually do to create jobs? Didn’t you say that “before trying to legislate its way to higher employment, the state needs to rectify some cultural and demographic trends” that make quick jumps in employment unlikely to happen regardless of what legislation gets passed? How do you square your support of right to work with that sensible assessment of Wisconsin’s reality?

Okay, Christian, that was, I suppose, more than one question. But if you could help us out and try to explain yourself, I would appreciate it, and I bet the rest of the BloggingBlue readership would as well. Thanks!

Duane Dubey: Right-to-work puts politics above people

From my email inbox comes this editorial by frequent Blogging Blue commenter Duane Dubey.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, recently said he wants the Legislature to take up right-to-work quickly, which continues the Republican effort to destroy unions.

Doesn’t Fitzgerald remember the disaster and cost of Act 10? Does he not recall the letter in 2011 by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki about the rights of workers and the value of unions? Has Fitzgerald also forgotten the message from U.S Catholic Bishops in 2007 explaining that Catholic social teachings support the rights of workers to choose whether to organize, join a union and bargain collectively, and to exercise these rights without reprisal?

Or is Fitzgerald betraying his faith in favor of his politics and in obedience to Walker’s quest to destroy Wisconsin unions? Which one is the Scrooge and which one is the Grinch?

Right To Work In The Badger State

Anyone reading this blog won’t be surprised to hear that I am vehemently opposed to Right To Work legislation. Nor that I am not particularly happy about the events from the past week or so that have lead to this particular blog.

The first shot across the bows of Wisconsin labor came on Monday December 1st, when it was announced that Lorri Pickens, a former employee of various stripes for Americans for Prosperity, was organizing Wisconsin Right To Work. Ms. Pickens of course intends to lobby Madison lawmakers in support of right to work legislation in Wisconsin. During the recent campaign, the Republicans essentially took the position that Right To Work legislation wasn’t on their radar, so it is not wholly surprising that someone would want to lobby in favor.

And then before the ink is even dry on their letterhead, State Representative Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) promised to introduce a right to work bill in the legislature.

And then, on Thursday December 4th, fearing the state senate might get left behind in right to work herohood, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) said there was no way that the topic could be avoided.

So essentially in a month’s time…from the November 4th election when Right to Work hadn’t crossed our mind…to December 4th when Right to Work legislation had become inevitable!

Fitzgerald first raised his proposal with conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes of WTMJ-AM (620), and then later Thursday discussed it with statehouse reporters. It was a complete shift from the rhetoric of Republicans who in the months leading up to the November election called the issue a distraction and insisted it was not a priority.

As bad as it is on the face of it, there are some really heinous activities within the right’s Right to Work discussions.

First is Senator Fitzgerald’s claim that the discussion is inevitable and that it should be taken up in the Senate before the Assembly…when there has been no movement in the Senate to introduce a bill and the assembly bill so far is still just a gleam in Representative Kapenga’s right eye.

“We can’t tiptoe through this session without addressing this,” Fitzgerald told Sykes on Thursday. “We’re not tackling this six months from now. We’re not tackling this a year from now. … There’s no way we avoid this issue. We have to deal with this issue right now.”

Fitzgerald said he would be willing to have the Senate vote first on the measure. Given that the backing for it is stronger in the state Assembly, the majority leader’s remarks signaled that support for the idea among conservative lawmakers could be too great to stop.

But I do find a bit of humor in this statement from the senator:

“It’s my opinion it has to come up early” in the session that begins in January, Fitzgerald told reporters. “I don’t know how we get through the session without having this debate.”

It seems to me that as Senate Majority Leader, Senator Fitzgerald should be able to quash just about any legislative initiative before it ever reaches the actual state senate for consideration…so when he says he doesn’t know how to avoid the debate he is either lying or…well he’s just lying.

But well and good…so far this is Republican politics in Madison as usual…the same sleight of hand that we’ve seen the past four years…distract and confuse…divide and conquer. We pretty much knew this was coming despite the Republican denials on the campaign trail.

But here’s where it really gets interesting. Just like the police and fire unions were left out of the betrayals of public employees built into Act 10…unions who supported Governor Walker in 2010…they are now looking for ways to insulate the private unions that supported them in 2014…divide and conquer at it’s most blatant…or maybe it’s another hand of pay to play?:

Nearly four years after mostly eliminating collective bargaining for public workers, Republicans are considering putting limits on most private-sector unions while giving an unprecedented exemption to the labor groups that support them politically.

One key impediment to passing such legislation has been the support Republicans have received from a few private-sector unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, whose members run the heavy equipment used to build roads and other infrastructure.

Thursday, Fitzgerald said Republicans could exempt the operating engineers, pipe fitters and certain other trade unions from any bill. But he also conceded that this approach could make the law more vulnerable to a legal challenge.

“We don’t know yet what can or can’t be done. If you asked three attorneys — three labor attorneys — what would or wouldn’t work, you’d get three different answers,” he said.

So they want to punish those unions who opposed the election of Governor Walker and the Republicans in the legislature while rewarding the unions who provided them with support. And they are brazen enough to discuss it openly even when the most dullard among them think it might actually be illegal.

Meanwhile, across the rotunda, the governor is sticking to his position that Right To Work legislation isn’t a priority…in fact it’s a distraction:

A day after a top Republican lawmaker announced he wanted to take up so-called right-to-work legislation early next year, Gov. Scott Walker said the move would detract from his attempts to cut taxes and make schools more accountable.

“My position has been — it’s hasn’t changed — I think it’s a distraction,” the GOP governor told Capitol reporters.

Too late governor…it’s already a distraction…if you can’t rein in your cohorts I assume you are paying RTW lip service…and are not actually opposed to the idea!

Update: Correcting Rep. Kapenga’s home from Brookfield to Delafield>

Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga to submit “right to work” for less legislation

According to a report by Todd Richmond of Bloomberg Businessweek, Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga is poised to submit “right to work” for less legislation here in Wisconsin during the next legislative session.

A Republican lawmaker promised Tuesday to introduce a right-to-work bill, prompting warnings from a Democratic leader that the state could see a round of protests reminiscent of the massive demonstrations against Gov. Scott Walker’s law stripping public workers of their union rights.

Rep. Chris Kapenga of Delafield, one of the most conservative members of the Assembly GOP caucus, said he’s convinced right-to-work legislation is right for the state. He said he believes giving people the choice of whether to join a union will boost incomes and the state’s economy.

“It’s the right direction to go,” Kapenga said in a telephone interview. “I’m convinced this is a very important piece of continuing growth in the state.”

According to the article, Rep. Kapenga noted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports “right to work” for less legislation, and if that’s true (which it no doubt is) then we can expect to see Rep. Kapenga’s legislation fast-tracked in the Assembly.

Group forms to lobby for “right to work” for less legislation in Wisconsin

This should surprise absolutely no one….

A longtime conservative activist with ties to national groups has started an organization to promote so-called “right to work” legislation.

Wisconsin Right to Work will seek changes in state law to prohibit businesses and unions from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers already banned such requirements for most public employees in Wisconsin, but their 2011 law known as Act 10 didn’t affect private-sector unions or police and firefighters.

Advocates say that prohibiting employers and labor groups from making these agreements would give workers more freedom. Opponents of the measure say it dramatically weakens union finances and clout by allowing workers to get any potential benefits from a labor group in their workplace without having to provide anything in return.

“Wisconsin’s public employees have already demonstrated their strong desire for their right to choose as evidenced by the sharp decline in enrollment in the teacher’s unions since the passage of Gov. Walker’s (Act 10),” Lorri Pickens, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Work, said in a statement.

Not only do I believe Scott Walker and rubber-stamp Republicans in the legislature will work to enact “right to work” for less legislation during the next session, but I also expect to see Act 10 expanded to include firefighters and law enforcement.