No Rights and No Works
By Nancy J Guyott
In response to E. Roy Budd's opinion printed Oct. 7, I would caution you to beware false prophets and false prophecies. The low road "right-to-work-for- less" agenda Mr. Budd trumpets is the same old anti-family agenda that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as providing "no rights and no works" four decades ago.
Mr. Budd claims that right-to-work-for-less states are growing manufacturing jobs. In reality, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment declined in 48 of the 50 states between 2000 and 2010. Of those two states, one grew at a rate 48 times greater than the other. Guess which one? The state that avoided the low- road right to work for less strategy grew more rapidly than the other.
Indeed, according to the Council of State Governments, the worst state in the nation in terms of the percent of private establishments gaining jobs for the period 1992-2009 was Florida -- a right-to-work-for-less state throughout the entire period.
Moreover, when Louisiana surveyed senior level corporate executives about how they make business location decisions, they ranked the existence of right-to-work laws 24th out of 26 factors in terms of importance, right above arts and personal phone calls from government officials.
Right-to-work-for-less policies have a devastating impact on working families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
* More people live in poverty in right-to-work for less states, 19.1 percent compared to 16.6 percent in all other states.
* Poverty is increasing more rapidly in right- to-work-for-less states, rising 7.4 percent in a decade in those states compared to 6.6 percent rise in all other states
* Though median household incomes fell, on average, throughout the country during the failed policies of the Bush administration, families in right-to-work-for-less states today have $6,184 a year less in income compared to their counterparts in all other states.
The number of people without health insurance in right-to-work-for-less states is rising nearly 70 percent faster than in other states, 3.2 percent compared to 1.9 percent from 2000 to 2009.
Similarly, a 2006 study by Indiana University's Division of Labor Studies found that Hoosier workers could see a drop of 16 percent in weekly wages, if Indiana takes the low-road right-to-work-for-less strategy.
Sadly, Mr. Budd praters about how no one should be forced to join a union to get a job -- an issue that died 60 years ago when the National Labor Relations Act was amended to protect the right of employees not to join a union -- rather than focusing on the issues of today. Contrary to Mr. Budd's assertions, the people of our neighbor states have repeatedly rejected the low-road strategy he advocates.
Now this country has a serious job crisis. And it requires serious answers. With 48 out of 50 states losing manufacturing jobs in the last decade, we should be working together to demand a responsible industrial policy that helps grow good jobs and rejects ill-advised trade deals that send our jobs overseas.
Corporations are sitting on record profits rather than creating jobs and CEOs make record amounts compared to line-level workers. We need an economic agenda that puts families first. We need to take the high road and find a path to prosperity for everyone.
[Nancy J. Guyott is president of the Indiana AFL-CIO.]