Polls, Democracy and Right To Work:

Over the past several days a number of proponents of the Right to Work legislation currently sailing through the Wisconsin legislature have been touting polling figures provided by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. As a matter of fact, Mike Nichols, the president of WPRI was touting them just this morning in his op-ed piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel supporting RTW.

These figures are discussed on the WPRI under the title Wisconsinites Support Right-To-Work Legislation. Their poll suggests that 62% of Wisconsinites would vote in favor of RTW. And since the poll is so overwhelming in favor, well naturally proponents say the legislature needs to pass this bill.

But it’s just a poll. And although politicians like to use polls to get a feel for the climate…they aren’t always reliable. And just because something polls strongly still doesn’t make it the right thing to do. But since the majority of those polled support RTW…well my gosh we should just have it.

Except when the poll runs gob smack into democracy. Unions weren’t thrust upon the earth in a cataclysm of epic proportions. They came into being over a period of decades with the blood and sweat of several generations of American workers.

And the union in the factory…or at that construction site…wasn’t created by royal decree. It came about because workers requested an election…and workers voted for/against the union…and the fors won. And there is a union. And guess what? That election was actually certified. And the majority ruled.

But now we are being told that democracy in the workplace be damned. When someone decides they don’t want to belong to a union…a union voted on by the majority of his or her co-workers…well he or she doesn’t have to belong…or pay dues…but by golly they get the same pay and benefits of participating union members.

But the lesson here…despite what President Obama arrogantly stated years ago…elections matter…and as the GOP has arrogantly gloated since the 2014 mid-terms…elections matter…except when they f*cking don’t. Union elections don’t f*cking matter when you don’t want them to.

So my personal lesson here is I don’t like the results of the 2014 elections…so I’ll just use those state highways but I am not going to pay my taxes. I’ll use the state parks…and not pay my fees. I’ll use the university…and not pay my tuition. State trooper hands me a speeding ticket…not paying it…etc…etc…etc.

Oh I know I can’t actually get away with that…but that’s the lesson I am being taught here.


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9 thoughts on “Polls, Democracy and Right To Work:

  1. Well, Ed, since you put it that way, I’d have to agree. If a worker is getting all the benefits of a union, he should pay his dues if he’s any kind of a citizen. With that logic, the unions should not be afraid of RTW. You don’t want the “free loaders” anyway. They’re just going to avoid the rules whenever it’s convenient for them. Still, I maintain that unions are good for management (see the recent Volkswagon plant in Tennessee) as well as workers. Wisconsin is the most prolific manufactuing state in the Union and has been for centuries because of strong, progressive unions as well as durable, dependable citizens. I simply don’t think unions have any thing to fear from RTW if an enlightgened management knows how to do their jobs. Now if you’ve got vindictive and vituperative mobsters in control, then unions will continue to fade on the American landscape.

    1. Cat,

      Could you say exactly what part of “It came about because workers requested an election…and workers voted for/against the union…and the fors won. And there is a union. And guess what? That election was actually certified. And the majority ruled.”

      you didn’t understand?

      Likewise, could you explain how you expect unions to compete against the $500/hour attorneys and accountants, that corporations will hire to beat their brains in, if they can’t afford to hire similarly priced talent?

  2. The trouble with the polls, editorials, media coverage, etc., is that RTW proponents are trading on widespread ignorance of what unions are and how they work. It may be a foregone conclusion here, but for the sake of the would-be 26th RTW state, labor and progressive politicians need to run a really simple education campaign so everybody’s operating with the same basic facts.
    Something like…

    Q: What does a union do?
    A: Basically 2 things. It puts the obligations of the employee and employer into a written contract so that an employer cannot make up the rules as they go (this is especially important for ensuring safe working conditions in dangerous occupations). And it keeps lawyers on retainer in case the employer pulls anything shady.

    Q: What is a Closed Shop?
    A: A “Closed Shop” describes when an employer’s policy is to only hire and employ union members. Closed shops have been illegal in the US since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. [I’d be surprised if even 20% of Americans would get this right.]

    Q: Do union dues pay for political advertising?
    A: No. Dues cover the cost of bargaining and legal representation. Many unions have separate political organizations to which members may voluntarily donate money over and above their dues.

    Q: Can a worker be forced to join a union?
    A: No. A worker is free to either leave or refrain from joining a union in all 50 states. RTW has no impact on this.

    Q: Can a worker be forced to pay union dues?
    A: Yes, and for good reason. Federal law requires that if a union has a contract to represent a particular class of employees the union must provide representation for every worker in that class, regardless of membership status. Because the union cannot opt-out of representing non-members, non-members can be required to pay the equivalent of dues to cover the cost of this representation. RTW is simply allowing workers to opt-out of paying dues, while still requiring the union to provide them with representation. This is called free-ridership.

  3. If RTW laws are so terrible why haven’t any of the 24 states that currently have these laws in place repealed them?

    1. Hobbs, look at the map and take a wild guess. You’re mostly looking at empty states with zero manufacturing. Where the Koch brothers, and other oligarch money has done real damage is in Wisconsin and Michigan.

      How’s North Dakota going to do now that Osama’s relatives in the Saudi Royal family put their shale gas out of business? Same for Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming,…. They can’t compete with oil at $50/barrel. When the trillions invested in capital expenditures is in bankruptcy court, and no one will ever invest in those technologies again, the Saudi Royal family will raise the price to $150/barrel.

      The only folks who ever got rich from extraction (mining) were those who could bribe the politicians into giving them title to the mineral rights. See Jones, Jerry (Cowboys owner).

      1. I’ll take actual fact based emotion any day, over witless pretenders claiming they are victims, whining and ducking out under unnecessary police, “protection,” after spouting their outright lies and refusing to listen to constituents when the facts counter their lies.


        Your complete ignorance of the facts about the wage theft and worker protection elimination bill doesn’t make the material argument against it disappear.

        Oh and your gratuitous and demeaning insult to JC was not emotional drivel?

      2. Trademark,

        1. You wrote: “It is half the country now”

        24 isn’t half, but math was never your strong point. It’s almost half the states, and the vast majority of those, as I already wrote are the least populated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

        Glad you support statehood for the District of Columbia. Its population is greater than Wyoming and Vermont. The oligarchs use those small states to control the Senate. It’s a lot cheaper for them to buy media time.

        2. trademark wrote: “pot head John.”

        Really can’t thank you enough for mentioning that Gov. Walker and the GOP controlled state government refuses to end the job-killing-state-regulations against marijuana. That leaves the money they should be taking in, in state and local tax revenue, to the drug gangs.

        3. trademark wrote: “Yet you propagandize it like a select state or two and ignore the question.”

        What did I “propagandize?”

        What “question did I ignore?”

        4. “Half fo the country, and very diverse at that.”

        Is that a sentence?

        You’ve repeated the same error three times. It’s half the states, not half the country.

        5. trademark wrote: “Unless Obama will take on China and Mexico, say goodbye to manufacturing increases right now.”

        You sound like a union man, “buy American.” Why isn’t Gov. Walker talking about the GOP trying to GIVE Obama “fast-track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

        “Trans Pacific Partnership: Obama ready to defy Democrats to push secretive trade deal

        The TPP has drawn the ire of Democrats including Elizabeth Warren who object it will destroy jobs, limit online freedom, increase outsourcing and derail climate agreements. Ironically, it has made allies of his GOP rivals…”


        C’mon trademark, how big a contribution have you made to Sen. Warren (D-MA)?

        6. trademark wrote: “The left has no real material argument against RTW.

        What do you call, “The decline in unionization in recent decades has fed the rise in incomes at the top,”?


        7. trademark wrote: “Emotion is what they are best at.”

        See #6 above.

        8. trademark wrote: This is a 70/30 issue. It will pass quick and easily.

        Yes, thanks to all the money the oligarchs have poured into it over the decades. Remember, they control the media.

        9. trademark wrote: “And unlike if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor BS,

        I keep telling you, I agree with you about much of Obamacare. I start with letting the health insurance oligopoly use the IRS as their sales force. And you’re correct the health insurance oligopoly will force people to change doctors every year to ratchet up premiums.

        That’s why I favor single-payer, a Medical/Dental debit card to each adult U.S. citizen.

        “Everyone gets a ‘medical debit card’ with perhaps $5000 in it to be used for qualifying medical expenses (including dental) for the year.
        Expenses beyond that are covered by catastrophic insurance.
        At the end of the year, the debit card holder gets a check for the unused balance on the card, up to $4,000, with the $1,000 to be spent on preventative measures not refundable.
        The next year, the cards are renewed for an additional $5,000.

        Doctor/patient time doubled as doctor/insurance company time is eliminated.
        The doctor must discuss the diagnosis and options regarding drugs, treatments, and costs with the patient rather than an insurance company.
        Individuals have a strong incentive to keep costs down.
        Doubling the time doctors have available for patients increases capacity and service without increasing real costs.
        Total nominal cost of approx. $1.5 trillion ($5,000×300 million people) is about 10% of GDP which is less than being spent today, so even when catastrophic costs are added the numbers are not financially disruptive and can easily be modified.
        Eliminates medical costs from businesses, removing price distortions and medical legacy costs.
        May obviate the need for Medicare and other current programs.
        Eliminates issues regarding receivables and bad debt for hospitals and doctors.
        Eliminates the majority of administrative costs for the nation as a whole for the current system.
        Patients can ‘shop’ for medical services and prices as desired.”


        That allows the folks who actually provide service to patients, physicians, hospitals, nurses, allied health professionals, Big Pharma, and medical device makers, to compete. As they compete, without the burden of the almost completely unproductive “tax” from the health insurance oligopoly, they will make increases in productivity and that’s what generates wealth/cuts overall spending on health care.

        10. trademark wrote: “if you like your union, you can keep your union.”

        I’m sorry you didn’t read Ed’s fine post. He destroyed your argument, which is that majority doesn’t rule.

        11. trademark wrote: “That is if they provde enought value to stay economically viable.”

        The oligarchs know how economically viable unions are. While definitely a pain-in-the-neck, unions are the only way to keep all the money from flowing to the elites. That’s why they fought so hard for right-to-freeload. Physicians, attorneys, tenured professors, engineers, …. anyone who uses credentialing to restrict the “supply” of their labor is bargaining collectively.

  4. “if you like your union, you can keep your union. That is if they provde enought value to stay economically viable”

    If restaurants were also required by law to provide goods and service to everyone who walks in the door yet the customers aren’t required to pay for it (“Right To Eat”) then how economically viable do you suppose restaurants will be?

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