Victory for workers' rights: Indiana's "right-to-work" for less law struck down

justinspoliticalcorner:

H/T: Kate Taylor at WISH TV

By putting government and politics into the center of economic analysis, Polanyi makes it clear that today’s vexing economic problems are almost entirely political problems. This can effectively change the terms of modern political debate: Both left and right today focus on “deregulation”—for the right it is a rallying cry against the impediments of government; for the left it is the scourge behind our current economic inequities. While they differ dramatically on its desirability, both positions assume the possibility of a “non-regulated” or “non-political” market. Taking Polanyi seriously means rejecting the illusion of a “deregulated” economy. What happened in the name of “deregulation” has actually been “reregulation,” this time by rules and policies that are radically different from those of the New Deal and Great Society decades. Although compromised by racism, those older regulations laid the groundwork for greater equality and a flourishing middle class. Government continues to regulate, but instead of acting to protect workers, consumers, and citizens, it devised new policies aimed to help giant corporate and financial institutions maximize their returns through revised anti-trust laws, seemingly bottomless bank bailouts, and increased impediments to unionization.

The implications for political discourse are critically important: If regulations are always necessary components of markets, we must not discuss regulation versus deregulation but rather what kinds of regulations we prefer: Those designed to benefit wealth and capital? Or those that benefit the public and common good?

The free market is an impossible utopia

(via rumagin)

What You Need To Know About The Michigan GOP’s ‘Right-To-Work’ Assault On Workers

justinspoliticalcorner:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) yesterday backtracked on his previous assertion that a union-busting move to pass a so-called “right-to-work” provision into law wasn’t on his agenda, and by the end of the day, both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan state Senate had introduced and passed separate pieces of legislation aimed at the state’s union workforce.

Michigan Republicans are pursuing the laws because Indiana Republicans passed “right-to-work” last year and, according to Snyder, the state needs such a law to remain competitive. In reality, though, such laws have negative effects on workers and little effect on economic growth, and Michigan Republicans are pursuing the laws without public debate:

The legislation: Both the state House and state Senate passed legislation yesterday that prohibits private sector unions from requiring members to pay dues. The Senate followed by immediately passing a law that extends the same prohibition for public sector unions, though firefighters and police officers are exempt. The state House included a budget appropriations measure that is intended to prevent the state’s voters from being able to legally challenge the law through a ballot referendum. Due to state law, both houses are prevented from voting on legislation passed by the other for five days, so neither will be able to fully pass the legislation until Tuesday at the earliest.

The process: Union leaders and Democrats claim that Republicans are pushing the legislation through in the lame-duck session to hide the intent of the measures from citizens, and because the legislation would face more trouble after the new House convenes in January. Michigan Republicans hold a 63-47 advantage in the state House, but Democrats narrowed the GOP majority to just eight seats in November. Six Republicans opposed the House measure; five of them won re-election in 2012 (the sixth retired). And Michigan Republicans have good reason to pursue the laws without public debate. Though the state’s voters are evenly split on whether it should become a right-to-work state, 78 percent of voters said the legislature “should focus on issues like creating jobs and improving education, and not changing state laws or rules that would impact unions or make further changes in collective bargaining.”

The effect: While Snyder and Republicans pitched “right-to-work” as a pro-worker move aimed at improving the economy, studies show such legislation can cost workers money. The Economic Policy Institute found that right-to-work laws cost all workers, union and otherwise, $1,500 a year in wages and that they make it harder for workers to obtain pensions and health coverage. “If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide,” David Madland and Karla Walter from the Center for American Progress wrote earlier this year. And right-to-work laws and the drop in union membership that follows have a significant impact on the middle class. Multiple studies, meanwhile, show that such laws have a negligible impact on economic growth. “Research shows that there is no relationship between right-to-work laws and state unemployment rates, state per capita income, or state job growth,” EPI wrote in a recent report about Michigan. And “right-to-work” laws alsodecrease worker safety and can hurt small businesses.

Union leaders are, of course, aghast at Snyder and the GOP’s right-to-work push. 

h/t: Travis Waldron at Think Progress Economy 

socialismartnature:

Hell, if workers at Wal-Mart can organize and go on strike, then anything’s possible.

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BREAKING: MCDONALDS WORKERS STRIKING IN NEW YORK CITY!

Here’s why: “Drive to Unionized Fast Food Workers Opens in NYC” | NYTimes

Sign the petition: http://bit.ly/QseFRV

“After three years of working at the McDonald’s restaurant on 51st Street and Broadway, Alterique Hall earns $8 an hour — and is yearning for something better.

“So when he heard about an unusual campaign that aims to unionize dozens of fast-food restaurants in New York in the hope of raising wages to $15 an hour, Mr. Hall, 23, was quick to sign on.

“Mr. Hall has enlisted in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States, a campaign that will be announced publicly on Thursday. The effort — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.”

Twinkies maker: Liquidation decision expected Friday - CBS News

justinspoliticalcorner:

Hostess Brands said it likely won’t make an announcement until Friday morning on whether it will move to liquidate its business, after the company had set a Thursday deadline for striking employees to return to work.

The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread had warned employees that would file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn’t return to normal levels by 5 p.m. EST Thursday. That would result in the loss of about 18,000 jobs.

A spokesman for Hostess, Lance Ignon, said the company would likely make an announcement Friday after assessing plant operations Thursday evening.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, has already reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. But thousands of members in its second-biggest union went on strike late last week after rejecting in September a contract offer that cut wages and benefits. Officials for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union say the company stopped contributing to workers’ pensions last year.

Hostess announced on Monday the closures of three bakeries due to the nationwide strike. The facilities employ 627 workers, according to the Associated Press.

A representative for the bakery-workers union did not respond to request for comment. The Teamsters meanwhile are urging the smaller union to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking. Citing its financial experts who had access to the company’s books, the Teamsters say that Hostess’ warning of liquidation is “not an empty threat or a negotiating tactic” but a certain outcome if workers continue striking.

The Teamsters also noted that the strike put its union members in the “horrible position” of deciding whether to cross picket lines.

Hostess, a privately held company, filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade. The company cited increasing pension and medical costs for employees as one of the drivers behind its latest filing. Hostess has argued that workers must make concessions for it to exit bankruptcy and improve its financial position.

As much as I like Twinkies and other Hostess brands, I think that the striking workers are right on this one. I stand with the striking workers! 

H/T: CBSNews.com


Utility Companies Deny Right-Wing Media Claims Of Union Discrimination | Blog | Media Matters for America

justinspoliticalcorner:

The right-wing media falsely reported that Alabama-based utility companies were turned away in New Jersey for hurricane disaster relief because they use non-union labor. However, multiple Alabama utility companies mentioned in these media reports say the claims are “rumors” and simply “not true,” and New Jersey utility companies have also denied that non-union working crews have been turned away.

Local Alabama news station WAFF was quoted in multiple right-wing news reports after it claimed that three utility crews from Alabama were not allowed to help with storm aid in New Jersey because they were non-union. Predictably, Fox News picked up the report almost immediately. During the November 2 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts asserted that non-union crews were not allowed to help in New Jersey hurricane relief, and frequent guest Charles Payne added that this is “one of the more despicable aspects of what we are seeing”:

Following this report, Drudge linked to other right-wing websites making similar claims under the headlines “Non-union crews turned away from NJ…” and “‘No Red Tape’?”:

Later on Fox, host Gretchen Carlson issued a minor update explaining that many of their viewers had in fact seen Alabama crews working in New Jersey.

WAFF, the source of the original reports, has since updated its post about these claims. It continues to report claims from an Alabama-based Decatur Utilities employee that his crew was presented with documents by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) that required union affiliation in order to provide disaster relief. However, WAFF clarifies that Decatur Utilities’ general manager said crews “were not turned away but were made to believe that affiliating with the union was a requirement to work.”

NorthJersey.com further noted that New Jersey utility companies were accepting all offers of help, regardless of union status:

Non-union crews should not be concerned about coming to New Jersey to help bolster the efforts of New Jersey utility companies, officials said today.

“We are accepting any available resource,” said Karen Johnson, a spokeswoman for PSE&G.

“We are working with our union and have non union crews participating in our restoration efforts,” said Ron Morano, a spokesman for JCP&L. “We continue to accept support from out of state utility companies and contractors.”

See Also: Dana Busted: Anti-Union hack Dana Loesch falsely attacks unions of “not helping the Hurricane Sandy storm victims”

h/t: MMFA

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