A Message from General President Jim Hoffa
The annual state legislative folly that spurs pro-corporate lawmakers to introduce legislation to hack away at workplace rights and wages for millions of middle-class families is well under way. And it is failing—again.
Despite the best efforts of the Koch brothers and their friends at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), right-to-work measures have already gone down in flames in Kentucky, New Hampshire and Oregon. And the path to victory for big business is far from assured in Maine, Missouri, Ohio or Pennsylvania either.
It seems the public is becoming wise to their arguments. People see how the corporate class is putting a reduction in business tax rates first and investment in the future of our communities last. It's just another attempt by rich CEOs to tip the economic scales even more in their favor at the expense of hard-working Americans.
In Missouri, for example, more than a thousand right-to-work opponents showed up at the state capitol late last month to call on lawmakers to defeat a measure current before the House. Workers won and right to work won’t appear on the ballot in August.
Despite efforts by national gadflies like anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to turn up the heat on the state's Legislature, members note even if legislation had cleared the Missouri House, it would have faced a more difficult path in the Senate.
The course is even more tenuous for ALEC and its supporters in the other states, with Ohio looking at a possible state constitutional amendment being placed on the November ballot while proposed measures elsewhere appear to be the least likely to be approved.
There are many reasons for this. Despite what corporate cronies claim, right-to-work doesn't create an environment that is good for workers or companies. In fact, a recent quality-of-life report released by Politico found the bottom five states—Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama—are right-to-work states. Meanwhile, four out of five with the highest quality of living—New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts—are free-bargaining states.
Right-to-work is a ruse. These laws depress wages, resulting in workers making about $1,500 less than those living elsewhere. They are also more likely not to receive health insurance and more likely to work in a dangerous workplace. In addition, it is proven not to be a deciding factor in where businesses locate.