Post Number: 1720
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:33 pm: || |
A front page story from yesterday's paper...
Leaders wonder if state ready to rethink unions
June 3, 2007
BY ZACHARY GORCHOW and KATHLEEN GRAY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
MACKINAC ISLAND -- In the home of such legendary labor figures as Walter Reuther and James R. Hoffa, even civil debate over the notion that Michigan might be better off as a right-to-work state -- where workers can't be compelled to join unions or pay their dues -- was once taboo.
Michigan is bleeding jobs, especially good-paying, top-benefit manufacturing jobs. Supporters of making Michigan a right-to-work state, including about a dozen Republican legislators, say a heavily unionized culture deters businesses from locating in the state, so, with the economic crisis, the once unthinkable must be examined.
"It's time to look at this as a way to get the residents in this state a way of having jobs," said Mark McDaniel, president and chief executive officer of Lansing-based Great Lakes Capital Fund, which he said has discovered investors leery of investing in Michigan because of unions.
Fending off that thinking was one reason union supporters pushed to have Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger speak to the 1,700 conferees at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference last week on Mackinac Island.
"We saw this as a chance to let people see who we really are," Gettelfinger said of why he attended this year's conference, noting he had to decline two years ago because of contract talks. "There are people who would try to make us out as the villains and responsible for the destruction of the country. And that's offensive."
This is a crucial year for Gettelfinger, whose union will face pressures in contract talks this summer to help make the domestic companies competitive with foreign carmakers.
Besides the high-profile speeches last week, labor leaders met with business leaders to dissuade them from supporting a change in Michigan's workplace laws.
Unionists like to call the right-to-work issue the "right to work for less" because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employees in right-to-work states are paid more than $5,000 a year less than their counterparts in states with no such laws.
Twenty-two states have right-to-work laws. They are all in the South, Plains and Mountain West. In a right-to-work state, workers cannot be compelled to join a union, even if management is agreeable.
In Michigan, management and unions in collective bargaining decide whether the workplace will be a closed shop, which requires membership and payment of dues as a condition of employment.
A handful of union-represented workplaces in Michigan have open shops, where union-represented employees don't have to join or pay dues.
With a Democratic governor and still politically powerful unions, there's no chance current bills in the Legislature would pass, but some union backers fear the possibility that a well-funded group could place the issue before voters with a petition drive.
In a Detroit Free Press/Local 4 Michigan Poll conducted last year, a majority (56%) of Michiganders said the state should change its laws to become a right-to-work state. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Post Number: 9280
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:34 pm: || |
I suspect that this would go a long way towards opening the state up to business.
I wonder how many manufacturing jobs would have stayed here instead of migrating south (US, not Mexico) if we were a right to work state.
Post Number: 296
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:42 pm: || |
It may open the state to more business, but is it the type of business we want? I think Michigan's biggest issue is that we don't look at the issues enough. We just do these quick fix solutions and then 20 years later, when things are still broken we complain and then do another quick fix resulting in the state just falling in a deeper and deeper hole. Michigan may get more companies on right to work but what is going to be a trade off for that? The average right to work state employee with the same type of job as a Michigan job now gets $5000 less in wages. Who knows what the loose in benefits. Are we willing to have a lower unemployment rate but trade that for less high quality jobs? Or is better to have the best jobs with the best wages and benefits with a higher unemployment rate? Just some questions.
Post Number: 1721
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:44 pm: || |
One question I have for anyone who knows -- If Michigan became a Right-to-Work state, would it have much impact on existing unionized workplaces/factories, or would it mostly just affect the unionizing of new workplaces?
Also, I assume there are Big 3/UAW factories in Right-to-Work states. What has been the impact of the Right-to-Work laws at those factories? Are there many employees at those factories that aren't in the union?
Post Number: 9282
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:45 pm: || |
Why are the right to work states seeing booming economies while rust belt, pro-union states are dying. I doubt it is the cold weather.
I hate to break it to you but $5K less in wages equates to about $300 or so less a month of take home pay. If my options were to take $300 out of my budget per month or struggle to find a job I think it is a no-brainer.
Post Number: 2276
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:50 pm: || |
they're not seeing booming economies in manufacturing
Post Number: 897
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:53 pm: || |
I think switching Michigan from a manufacturing based economy is much more relevant than to a right to work state.
(Message edited by iheartthed on June 04, 2007)
Post Number: 9285
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 1:57 pm: || |
Doug - I believe the places would probably stay unionized but members could opt out if they choose.
Can anyone confirm or correct this?
Post Number: 297
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 2:01 pm: || |
Just some questions I never said there was a right or wrong answer in it. I will say I do not support the move to make Michigan a right to work state. A lot of this comes from the fact that I do not trust large companies to do the right thing by their employees, and even with the flaws of the unions. Giving companies, unions, or any one group ultimate control in your career is a bad idea. I also have to say what happens in the state of Michigan in the next four years will affect if I stay or if I go. And I can promise that I won't be going to the South. There is alot to be considered and I am just saying that before we all jump on a band waggon we need to look at the issues, and look at Michigan itself, and move from there. Just because something works in one places doesn't mean it will work everywhere else. Saginaw is a good example. The prime suburban strip is Bay Rd, and to compete someone on the DDA for Saginaw decided that they should clear large areas of downtown for Bay Rd, style development, strip malls and such. Jefferson, Genesee, and entire blocks have been leveled with the promise that this empty land will bring developers. It hasn't now they have just destroyed the architecture and fabric of their downtown which was the biggest asset they had. So before we do that with our economy lets try not to fit square pegs in circular holes. Lets look at everything and come up with something that will really work.
Post Number: 2875
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 2:03 pm: || |
That is correct, Jt1. No union can have a monopoly on the labor supply in an industry. Membership is optional rather than compulsory.
Becoming right to work is exactly what we need. As Iheartthed states, we inevitably must move away from manufacturing, but we still have tons of people with manufacturing skills, and tons of people in this state that want to build stuff and hang on to industry. To do this, we must become right-to-work.
Post Number: 1722
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 2:06 pm: || |
Are we willing to have a lower unemployment rate but trade that for less high quality jobs? Or is better to have the best jobs with the best wages and benefits with a higher unemployment rate?
6nois, you've correctly identified the tradeoffs. In my opinion, the tradeoff would be worth it. I'd much rather have lower unemployment even if it means slightly lower average wages. Especially in the city of Detroit, you have a large unemployed underclass which exists partly because of the too-high wage standards of some unions. Plus there are other bad side effects of manipulating the wage market.
It's not a cure-all, but I think the positives of RTW would outweigh the negatives.
Post Number: 1862
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 2:43 pm: || |
It may open the state to more business, but is it the type of business we want?
As opposed to no jobs for the people who have hemmed themselves into only manufacturing.
Post Number: 517
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 3:56 pm: || |
I'm not sure whether i support such a move or not, but i can't help but wonder, while RTW states may make 5000 a year less than a union state, what's the difference in unemployment rates? Our problem is not so much how much the jobs pay, but that those jobs are leaving entirely. So which is better, a low unemployment rate with lower wages and (relatively) better job security, or high unemployment rate with higher wages but virtually no job security?
Post Number: 1341
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 4:07 pm: || |
"With a Democratic governor and still politically powerful unions, there's no chance current bills in the Legislature would pass, but some union backers fear the possibility that a well-funded group could place the issue before voters with a petition drive. "
God forbid we let the voters of the state decide on how best to run it...I mean, that would be like - GASP - a democracy for crying out loud! Now is that what we really want for Michigan???
(Message edited by thejesus on June 04, 2007)
Post Number: 305
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 4:29 pm: || |
America is a not just a democracy though, it is a representative democracy, and it is the politicians job to make these decisions. Not that of the public. If we were to be a true democracy the public should vote on every issue but that is just crazy to even think. It is a good thing that isn't the way it is. Our government is the way it is to reflect the general consensus on issues while protecting freedoms of everyone.
Post Number: 5984
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 4:52 pm: || |
Granholm was very upset of our leaders about how things in our great state of Michigan should be run. Granholm was elected governor to fulfill her agenda. Clean up this $800 Million dollar deficit without cutting any public sources in which she did even through she wants to shut down the government of the Neo-Cons in the Michigan Legislature refuse on her proposal. Then next agenda to bring jobs here to Michigan in which she did even through lots of jobs in the Automotive industry and its contracted middleman has vanished. She is staying the course and everyone must agree on what she is doing. We the people in Michigan need to help Granholm clean up Engler's mess instead of pointing blaming fingers on her and the rest of the socialist unions. Fixing Michigan's economy takes action NOT TALK!
Post Number: 4511
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 5:02 pm: || |
Can Michigan’s economic troubles be a blessing in disguise? The state is being forced to change and evolve with other industries. Can’t this be a good thing? We finally have the chance to diversify and not rely so much on an unstable auto industry. It seems that these southern states are enjoying manufacturing growth nowadays, but what about in the future when more automation takes over?
Post Number: 4512
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 5:05 pm: || |
I have also read that Michigan has the highest skilled/educated manufacturing workforce. What happened when Southern states catch up with this? A lot of companies have to choose between a non-union state with low-skilled labor or a union state with high-skilled labor and the higher wages associated. They usually choose the former due to lower pay and benefits. Patrick
Post Number: 1342
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 5:09 pm: || |
Allowing representatives to cast our votes for us is beneficial because it is impractical to hold a public vote on every issue, but that does not mean that it is ever worse to hold a public vote on a particular issue if there is public interest in doing so...
Post Number: 1725
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 9:57 pm: || |
It's fair to put major decisions like this before a public proposal vote. I wasn't crazy about the outcomes of the affirmative action and gay marriage ban proposals, but they got the signatures.
Post Number: 5590
|Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 10:22 pm: || |
Right-To-Work does not necessarily assure Michigan a better economy. There are some struggling right-to-work states, and some very successful union shop states. It's definitely something that we should have a debate on, but unions are such an incredible scapegoat for the ills of our economy. General Motors would have not continue to invest in new plants, here in heavily-unionized Lansing if unions were so big and scary and detrimental to their health.
Post Number: 3276
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 1:24 am: || |
I have also read that Michigan has the highest skilled/educated manufacturing workforce. What happened when Southern states catch up with this?
Where did you come up with that bit of writing? Michigan, as a whole, is only 39th among the states in per capita college degrees AND Metro Detroit is only 22nd out of the 24 largest metropolitan areas in the same metric.
Somehow, Michigan being near the top in education for those doing manufacturing jobs just doesn't seem to be correct, and it almost defies logic, considering the facts.
Post Number: 5593
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 4:11 am: || |
"Skilled workforce" is an ambiguous term that can mean everything from college-eduated workers, to workers with high-skill in a particular trade. Highly-educated Michigan is not, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it rank high on list measuring the amount or percentage of 'skilled' workers.
Post Number: 3277
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 4:29 am: || |
The skills required for manufacturing positions are generally only found among the foremen, technicians (and engineers), and trades positions (including QA), of which they are still only a relatively small percentage of the total work force. The remainder of manufacturing jobs are essentially repetitive in nature and have a relatively short learning requirement. And most of the latter require few skills or little education, although in today's plant environment, machines continue to replace humans wherever possible.
The modern steel-making jobs are a prime example of this. In such plants, maybe 50 to 100 trained workers literally do the former jobs of a thousand or more workers using the older technology. Still, those jobs are usually capable of being done without a high level of special skills.
(Message edited by Livernoisyard on June 05, 2007)
Post Number: 5594
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 5:20 am: || |
I realize that, which is why I made the point that the term "skilled workforce" is an ambiguous term. It can mean a number of different things.
Post Number: 1868
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 10:38 am: || |
You do realize that is not the wages that are killing these jobs, it is endless benefits that are were once cheap to add are now costing an arm and a leg. Add into that strict work rules and you have a dying economy based upon those industries.
There is a reason it costs ~$40 per hour per employee more to do business here. Just think of the math. 300k GM workers * $40 * 8 hrs/day * 52 weeks.
Do you realize it costs on Average ~$12,000 a year per employee for health care for Big Three employees compared to $6,000 on average the rest of the country. Now add into the fact that the Big Three employees on average use their insurace almost 30% more than anyone else including government sponsored Health Care.
Post Number: 902
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 11:02 am: || |
"Can Michigan’s economic troubles be a blessing in disguise?"
That's exactly what it is. The ability to change before it really is too late...
Post Number: 1898
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 1:30 pm: || |
Meaning they go to the doctor when they're sick, which you ought to do, and they work in a much more dangerous and strenuous workplace than your average office (not to diss office work).
Post Number: 200
|Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 2:17 pm: || |
The article below was gleaned last month from The Building Tradesman, a publication that serves unionized building trades workers in Michigan.
It's a short, a cautionary tale that illustrates being careful what you ask for when it comes to instituting right to work laws, or any other rule that lowers standards in exchange for attracting businesses.
We need to ask ourselves what kind of state we want when we invite in a right to work law. Do we want $8.79 per hour plumbers? Do we want $9.50 per hour backhoe operators?
Before all your righties say hell yeah, just remember that the $40-$50 per hour plumbers and operators in Michigan can afford a second car, can afford to go out to dinner and the movies, can afford to buy furniture and put tax money back into the state's coffers.
Right to work laws are all part of the economic "race to the bottom" that this country is in, and I'd love to see some leadership in Washington work to start upholding wages and benefits for all American workers. But in this era, corporations are dictating all the rules, and shareholders are more important than employees.
Here's the article...
Toyota goes to
the land of cheap labor
According to the Construction Labor Report, Toyota Motor Corp. wants to build its eighth assembly plant in Mississippi, a $1.3 billion auto plant near Tupelo.
Toyota wants a project labor agreement with local unions before construction starts. But, the article said there is concern that the area won’t be able to man the work. That’s because a recently completed $2.5 billion Toyota truck assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas had to guarantee significant amounts of overtime wages to attract construction workers, because wage rates there were so low.
“Wages are even lower in Tupelo,” said the president of the Central Mississippi Building Trades Council to the Construction Labor Report.
How low? Check out the local wage rates if you’re interested in booming out of Michigan and may be eyeing Mississippi.
The article said prevailing wage determinations for Mississippi by the U.S. Department of Labor find hourly wage ranges from $5.30 for laborers to $10 for electricians. The prevailing wage for carpenters is $7.50 per hour, $8.79 for plumbers and $9.50 for backhoe operators. The data indicates there are no benefits paid for any of the crafts.
Footnote: both Texas and Mississippi are right-to-work states.