Another View: How's that right-to-work opposition working out for NH?
A right-to-work law is back in the news in New Hampshire. The Democrat-led House of Representatives defeated it Wednesday. The Democrats asserted that citizens with the right to choose whether to pay union dues or fees for employment only have a right to a lower standard of living and lower wages; that the very idea of a right to work is driven by radical ideology. Clever? Yes. Correct? You decide.
My perspective is that of someone who is north of three score in age, politically Independent, having been registered as a Democrat for many years. I've lived in New England for more than 30 years and have lived or spent large amounts of time in all other regions of this country.
Do you remember when there was a Digital Equipment Company (DEC) facility in just about every other town in southern New Hampshire? Do you remember when Raytheon and Cisco employed lots of folks here? Do you remember Hadco/Sanmina? These and other companies (employers of large numbers of folks, paying really good wages) are all gone from here. What has taken their place here in the last 10 to 15 years? How do folks make similarly good wages as were made with those employers?
Twenty-four states have right-to-work laws. What kind of economic activity has been occurring in those over the same time we have seen so many companies leave? Can you say BMW and Boeing in South Carolina? KIA in Georgia? Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and AirBus in Alabama? Honda in Mississippi? Toyota in Texas and Tennessee? Do you believe that anyone working there has accepted a "lower standard of living" by taking those jobs?
In a June 12, 2012, article about 22,000 people applying for about 900 new jobs at an Alabama Hyundai plant, it was noted that the average salary at Alabama's three auto assembly plants "tops $54,400, according to data from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama," which contrasted with the "overall annual average wage in Alabama (which) is $34,600."
And what was one of the major reasons these manufacturer's moved to these states? Right-to-work laws. Workers could choose whether to join the UAW or other union, whether to pay dues or fees; they would not be forced to give up their right to choose what they wanted to do.
Since DEC, Cisco, et al, left New Hampshire, what companies have moved in here offering large numbers of jobs at 160 percent of the average income? Who? Where? How about anywhere in New England?
Now please don't tell me that you really don't want any such manufacturing jobs to come here; please don't say that you don't want folks to be able to make 160 percent of the average wage just because they would work in a large manufacturing plant. Who would not like to get a slice of the kind of economic pie those other states got?
And what company is going to move into any New England state knowing that their employees will be forced to join a union or pay fees if their workforce has unions? Who?
So, what are the objections to right-to-work laws all about, then? Money and politics. Unions contribute large amounts of cash to the Democratic Party, which uses that in its efforts to reelect Democratic candidates to political office. Unions are a major contributor to the Democratic Party, and Democratic elected officials in turn "scratch the unions' back" while in office. That makes a nice team.
Unions have indeed played a very positive role in labor relations in the United States over the past century. But should you be forced to join one or to contribute to one because the company where you want to work is unionized? Should you not have the right, in a free society, to choose whether to join or to contribute? Since union dues and fees go to the Democratic Party war chest, should you not have the right to decide whether to contribute to that party?
I believe that the citizens of this great state can see beyond the doublespeak of Democratic Party opposition. Do you actually believe that having the right to choose is giving up your rights? When Democrats say that wanting a right to work is driven by radical ideology, that it will destroy middle-class values, do you actually believe those claims?
When one has no substance to one's argument, then one resorts to the kind of baloney that the Democratic Party is dishing out. Does real economic opportunity and growth, as seen over the past 20 years in these states with right-to-work laws, mean more to you than keeping Democrats in power means to you?
Now, those are important facts. The denial of your right to work is in fact the one thing guaranteeing you "the right" to a lower standard of living, a "right" to lower wages, a "right" to miss out on a big economic pie, a "right" to being forced to contribute to the Democratic Party.
Which right is more important to you?
Charles Grubbs is a software engineer in Manchester.
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Walter Milano said:
Way to go Charles!!! I love it when an average working guy takes the time to think things over and tell itlike it is.Nice job!
February 14, 2013 3:39 am
zachary smith said:
Mr. Grubbs I did a little research on your numbers and I found my numbers to be by not as large of a gap as yours. I found that the average salary of the Hyundai employee was 46,000 a year which is 4,000 more then the average income in the state BUT is 9,000 less then the national average. I think it is great that these employees are making a few thousand more then the state average but I feel that Hyundai moving to the state had nothing to do with Unions but it had everything to do with cheap labor. Now we could both likely agree that if the Hyundai plant was Unionized the workers would have a higher salary and better benefits. Now can I ask you Mr. Grubbs what worker does not want to make a higher wage and better benefits? I am against "Right to work laws". I am a Union member ( third generation by the way) and feel very proud of it. I am employed at a manufacturing facility on the seacoast. The average hourly workers salary is probably 65,000 with a pension,401K,personal time, vacation time, dental, vision, health insurance,uniforms and so on. I know quite a few workers that make just under tripple digits. Do you think the Hyundai wokers would rather have this job or their current? Oh yeah forgot to mention that I pay $8 in those big UNION DUES. WOW! Does not seem like a big issue for me paying $8 a week. If the workers at the Hyundai plant were more educated towards what the Union could do for them they might get the %51 they need to make it a Union shop. Another fact, if those %49 of workers dont want to join a Union they dont have to. Its the law, they only have to pay a portion the dues, for the cost of negotiating their contract!
February 14, 2013 4:54 am
John Mercier said:
Mr Grubbs... You lost it when you brought up Hadco/Sanmina. Hadco was bought out by Sanmina (a southwestern company) and the plants in NH closed due to higher costs; but the higher costs were not labor. And no employer can be forced to sign a contract that includes the requirements of agency fees - the employer must decide that to be in their best interest.
February 14, 2013 5:25 am
CAROL ALLISO RICHARDSON said:
I guess I don't understand the intricacies of right-to-work. Can someone please help me understand that by altering the union dues/fees collection rules it stops this state from being an employee at will state. I do not see where this type of legislation will prohibit any employer from firing you on any given day just because they feel like it. I'm not aware of any statute that one must have just cause for dismissal and what that just cause is defined as. How does this give anyone the right to work?
February 14, 2013 5:32 am
Niel Young said:
Obama whines about the chance for all Americans to make more money, and then he protects and coddles the very tool that won't allow folks to make more money. Unions breed mediocrity, no competition to earn more than the person working next to you. As my friend Judy K says; "low expectations, met them early!" I would be proud to have Charles Grubbs as a guest on my radio program. email@example.com
February 14, 2013 7:36 am
Matt Lulling said:
Any one who benefits from a union contract needs to pay the dues.
February 14, 2013 8:52 am
Dean Frazier said:
This is a very poorly researched essay. BMW isn't a recent move, they have been in South Carolina for over 20 years. While Boeing built a plant in SC, they also expanded in Puget Sound which is not a RTW state. For major industries, the chief factors in choosing locations tend to be access to supplies, infrastructure, key markets and a skilled workforce, according to business-recruitment specialists. For a state's workers, the impact of the laws is limited because only about 7 percent of private-sector employees are unionized. Over the years, job growth has surged in states with and without right-to-work laws. If Mr Grubbs were to compare neighboring states with and without RTW, he would see that growth is nearly identical. Citing RTW as a major factor for a certain state having a manufacturing company locate there is dishonest and anecdotal. Weather beats out RTW as a factor for location. NH has outperformed nearly every state that has RTW laws on its books in both unemployment rate and quality of living. So, how is that opposition to RTW working out for NH? Very well, as a matter of fact, better than 21 of the 24 states that have this red herring.
February 14, 2013 9:02 am
George LeMont said:
The UAW union just got workers who were caught drinking and smoking weed on the job reinstated back to work after Chrysler fired them. The unions don't seem any different than the democrat party itself where bad behavior has no consequences and taking responsibility means no punishment at all. When you're a union member don't worry the bad workers get the same everything as you do for being dedicated workers trying to make a quality product with pride. And if you're one of those good workers you dare not say anything or it will be you being punished by the union you're forced to fund. When your Chrysler product fails to stop or accelerates on its own taking you and your child for a ride you didn't want thank the workers who are entitled to the job no matter how stoned they are while building your car. It's their right after all to be drunk and stoned on the job and soon the democrat party will be the one providing them their weed. If you did not hear about this taking place a few months ago, you spend too much time watching WMUR praising Hollywood and puppies every day, as real news that effects us all in a negative way is ignored.
February 14, 2013 9:16 am
Bob Paulding said:
Well at least Mr Gruggs acknowledges that unions have played an important role in this country's history over the last century. Things like improved workplace safety, establishing a minimum wage, OSHA, a five day work week that helped establish a forty hour week and don't forget that weekend thing that many of us enjoy to name a few. I'd also like to add that the places he points out have always had a history of a lower cost of living. Not being an economist but it seems that normally, employee wages are reflected on the regions cost of living. So what I get out of this article that he recognizes that wages are lower in states that have RTW. Fine, just don't lower my wage. Carol A Richardson, basically what happens in a union shop employer is that new hires are required to join a union to which they must pay dues. As Zack Smith stated above, they generally aren't much. When RTW laws are in place, those employees that are at or join that union shop can elect to not pay those dues but still get all the benefits that the union provides. Over time as more and more people opt not to pay these dues, the union loses its collective bargaining power when negotiotating new contracts. This eventually leads to lower wage increases and over the years becomes lower overall. Additionally RTW has a side affect. Many small nonunion businesses that perform trade jobs like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, steel work, etc base their wages off of local union rates. They often will bid jobs just under that union wage rate and pay their employees based upon that rate. So as the union rates go down over the years because of RTW, so do theirs. Many studies show wages are higher in nonRTW states. Pro RTW folk say that it brings in more employers and creates more jobs. Mr Grubbs points this out and I don't disagree as its true but those jobs are at lower wage rates. Many politicians always like to point out that they need to protect the middle class. Obviously those most affected by this are the middle class folks. So one simply needs to ask, is it worth more jobs (a build it and they will come theory), to pass RTW laws? Is it worth it having lower wages and eventually weakening middle class living standards? Here's a link on a RTW study. http://www.epi.org/publication/ib326right-to-work-new-hampshire-update/
February 14, 2013 10:21 am
Dean Frazier said:
Bob Paulding, I only take one issue with your well written contribution. In a union shop, anywhere in the US, by ruling of the US Supreme Court, no person can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. A union shop may, however, collect a portion of the dues as a service fee to cover the cost of negotiations for compenstion agreements that benefit all.
February 14, 2013 10:57 am
Bob Paulding said:
Dean I appreciate your comment. I've only worked in one union shop during my time but I got the general feeling that if I didn't contribute to paying dues, my time there wouldn't go over well with my fellow employees. Can you verify that's the case in a union shop?
February 14, 2013 11:09 am
Stephen Boyington said:
He misses the point and argues fantasyland. There are no large automobile manufacturing plants coming to NH regardless of right to work. Others have said why. It is more expensive to operate here. If you are going to argue that right-to-woirk will make auto plants move here you might as well argue that the Vatican will move here. NH has one of the lowest percent of union workers around. Right to work is a silly argument more applicable to other states. It is all about the state employees fair share dues and always has been.
February 14, 2013 1:40 pm
Peter Gosselin said:
Zachery Smith, companies are outsourcing all of the time. How much longer will it be before your company outsources because it can no longer compete in the global marketplace due to the cost of it's employee's compensation package? Unless your company makes the one and only special widget in the world, we are all vunerable to replacement. Zachary, I did my research and went to Alabama's Department of Labor. The average wage in 2011 was $770.20 per week, which is barely over $40,000 per year. This figure includes the three auto manufacturer plants who's average salary of $54,400 (according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, 10/12) which pulled up the average . That's $14,000 more than the average wage in Alabama, not $4000 more that you quote. Why so misleading? To bolster your argument for unions, you say "The average hourly workers salary is probably 65,000 with a pension,401K,personal time, vacation time, dental, vision, health insurance,uniforms and so on." where you work. So your guessing? Your argument is built on sand. Either by poor research or the desire to intentionally mislead to fit your narrative, you have only weakened the argument for opposing Right-To-Work by fuging the numbers.
February 14, 2013 2:13 pm
Peter Gosselin said:
Zachery I forgot one other thing. You mention that employees at your manufacturing site "probably" average $65,000 per year with benefits included in an attempt to belittle the non-union workers compensation at car manufacturing plants in Alabama. Well, on further research, it is very well documented that the non-union workers at these plants cost anywhere between $44 to $48 per hour in total benefits which puts them closer to $99,000 per year , as compared to your union shop of $65,000 per year. You said "Do you think the Hyundai wokers would rather have this job (meaning yours) or their current?" I think we all know the answer to that now. And yes they are hiring. False arguments are a waste of time. If I'm wrong, please show me. If I'm right, admit it.
February 14, 2013 2:46 pm
Peter Gosselin said:
Dean Frazier said: "NH has outperformed nearly every state that has RTW laws on its books in both unemployment rate and quality of living. So, how is that opposition to RTW working out for NH? Very well, as a matter of fact, better than 21 of the 24 states that have this red herring." Dean, how many of those right-to-work state have zero income or sales tax? RTW has absolutely nothing to do with it.
February 14, 2013 2:52 pm
Dean Frazier said:
Bob, there are several rulings dealing with membership, dues and proportional fees. Knox v SEIU , NLRB v GM and Communication Workers v Beck. You are right, there can be hostility and animosity if one isn't part of the majority, but the option is there to refuse.
February 14, 2013 2:59 pm
Dean Frazier said:
Peter Gosselin, my point exactly. RTW has little to do with luring jobs into a state and the lack of it does not attract jobs either. It is a useless piece of legislation. Too many other important factors weigh in on the decision that RTW doesn't make the top 15 many times. The reasons Southern states lure these businesses are infrastructure, weather, energy costs, geographic location, tax incentives, regional labor costs ....with RTW not even in the equation. I also think you misunderstood Zach Smith's comments about the salary at his place of employment. He will have to verify, but I don't think his use of the word "with" meant that the cost of benefits was included in the $65K of hourly wages. I believe he was merely listing the benefits which included vacation time and personal time. Again, RTW is not an economic issue and there is no empirical data to support the argument that it is a tool for growth when all other variables are figured in.
February 14, 2013 3:12 pm
Bob Paulding said:
Dean, so to my point and experience, if I pay $8 for example a paycheck, it probably will equate to a much happier work environment vs not paying. To me $8 is nothing.
February 14, 2013 4:02 pm
John Mercier said:
CAROL ALLISO RICHARDSON... Your only employed-at-will if you don't have a contract. The unions argue that since they negotiate the contract that any employee benefitting from the contract must pay their share of the negotiation costs. But its largely up to the employer to agree to such a contractual clause. Most are mad at public unions; and stipulate that one party supports what the other does not - history doesn't support that.
February 14, 2013 4:45 pm
Amy Garrand said:
I think the people working at the Sanmina plant on Abby rd. in Manchester are going to have a panic attack (or maybe a sigh of relief?) upon reading that they work at a company that doesn't have any operations in this state anymore. The writer made a lot of good points, but should really check his facts when publishing an article in the UL.
February 14, 2013 5:55 pm
zachary smith said:
Peter the company I work for does in fact make a special widget that is only made in a few parts of the world. My info was misleading you say. I did not check out the Alabama dept of labor site, I google searched info on the Hyundai plant to get the info that I posted above. So just because we did not view the same material my info is misleading? My number of 65K at my Union employer is without the benefits I stated above ( I personally made quite a bit more) and no I did not walk around the shop floor and ask the boys what they took home followed by the math but I am close. I did not belittle the workers at the Hyundai plant I stated if they were more informed of what the Union could do for them there might be a change in tone. Now stop trying to twist my words! I am just gald there are more like me in the statehouse then you on this issue! Personally this is a no issue article that the UL has to write someting on because of the conservitive nature of the paper and to start discussions that means nothing at the present time. It is written by a software engineer, someone who the law would never have any effect on.
February 15, 2013 1:56 am
Charles Grubbs said:
Thank you all for your comments. It's interesting to note that almost all commenters have been against RTW laws. Healthy discussion is a good thing. Some observations of my own in follow up:1. The Hadco plant in Derry where 1100+ were once employed is a dirt patch (literally) today. That Hadco is gone.2. If RTW is not an economic related issue, then why are all of the arguments against it to the effect that it does not help economically, and why are the positive arguments for it to the effect that it will protect middle-class values and standards of living?3. It's as though folks really do understand that there is an economic component to this discussion but don't want to admit it.4. If "union shop" laws (the opposite of RTW) are so good and necessary, what is the positive argument for them? The positive, non-econimic argument that is. How do they help everybody? Or do they only help a few?5. Finally, as several said, if RTW is a non-important issue, if it's trivial, then why such vociferous opposition to repealing the law and giving people the right to choose?6. If we are progressive in our society and want to give everyone the rights that we believe they desire, how could we not give people the right to choose in this matter?7. Can the opponents to RTW laws state the real, core objection to RTW? No double speak, no equivocation; just straight talk. Even though someone said that I was dishonest in my statemnet of my view, I tried to honestly & directly state my evaluation of this issue. If you object to RTW laws, will you do the same?Regards,Charles Grubbs
February 15, 2013 9:16 am
Amy Garrand said:
Charles, the Hadco plant you speak of was a Sanmina plant when it closed, and closed down as part of the merger between the two companies about 11-12 years ago. I know because I worked there at the time and we were informed of the decisions made during this transition. The spot may be a dirt patch now, but this result is not related to RTW in any way I can see. Sanmina while not as profitable as it was in the past is still employing many people in NH, I still know several of them, and is in no danger of becoming a union shop at this point, with this said I do not understand you referencing this company to point out the need for RTW (which I firmly support as well). I support right to work as a relief for workers that want no part of a union from having wages taken from them without choice (besides to not work at a job to which they are qualified). You also went from the electronics industry leaving the state (which it is, it's leaving the whole country not just non right to work states) and then go right into the auto industry being in RTW states, while I am sure that there are skill sets in both industries that are transferable, it will not replace jobs in the electronics industry tit for tat and leaves me wondering at your point. The job market will not be fixed by enticing employers that need skill sets that are not prominent in the existing work force. Skills that would be needed in this transition would take time and training, meaning that the companies involved would more than likely import talent from other areas in order to be profitable quickly. This is not a fix for the people that are already here and don't have experience in manufacturing cars, it also does not benefit the talent that would be coming in as it would create resentment from locals that are unemployed as well as a higher cost of living for those that would be imported from other areas (NE as aregion has the highest cost of living than any other region. RTW would lower the costs of several existing services in NH such as our police force, public construction, teachers. It would end the public employee that is suspended WITH PAY for wrong doing on the job, these changes would also more than likely lower the revenue spent on bargaining with public employees, as well as the school closures that happen or are threatened every time the teachers union contract comes up to be renewed. This would happen due to the union having less financial power by not taking from people that want no part of them. I am not saying that people that want to be in a union should not be in a union, but that a union should not be in the pockets of people that do not want the services that are provided by the union. The union supporters argue that the employees that are not part of the union are benefiting from the existance of the union. I ask all of them would you make a forced donation to a political party that goes against your views on the logic that as an American you benefit from our political system? I think you would hide your money - every last penny!
February 15, 2013 2:30 pm
Charles Grubbs said:
Thank you Amy. What I was trying to communicate, but did not do a good job at, was to say "let's zoom out to the big picture. In the past 20 years we in NH have seen many, many good paying jobs leave and not much of anything similar replace them. Of course these jobs that left were in no way connected to RTW laws or Union Shop laws. The opponents of RTW laws say that RTW laws do not have a positive economic impact. Well, I thought, look at the development that has occurred in many RTW states during that same 20 year period! It mattered not to me what industry was involved nor what skills were needed, just that some kind of industry did go to RTW states while not much if any came here. While there are many factors involved in an industry locating somewhere, RTW laws are one of them. Saying that they do not influence such decisions is to ignore the obvious. Furthermore, to say that Union Shop laws protect the middle class is double-speak. Maybe a few are aided by them, but most in the middle class never will get a shot at the kind of good paying jobs that RTW states have garnered in the past 20 years."
February 15, 2013 4:57 pm
Bob Paulding said:
Mr Grubbs, myself and I like to think others here appreciate your view on the topic. There are pro's and cons to this subject. Yes I agree RTW has been shown that in "some" cases, can attract business and create jobs. Those cases where it was passed and didn't only lead to a weakened middle class as I had previosly described above. Unfortunately the people beating their drums the loudest on passing RTW legislation are trying to clearly attack unions. That's the bottom line. What those people haven't considered is the collateral damage that's created when such legislation is passed. Some of the studies I've pointed to such as the Economics Policy Institute and the Economics Dept at Notre Dame for example have shown the gradually union and nonunion wages and benefits fall after such legislation is passed. Many small businesses that are contruction and trades base their wages off of the areas union wages as previously mentioned above. So when their wage increases slow down, there's a trickle affect of sorts that affects those nonunion businesses. That will affect how they bid, how many people they can hire and the benefits they are able to offer their employees. So when you stated near the end of your comment "but most in the middle class never will get a shot at the kind of good paying jobs that RTW states have garnered in the past 20 years", you realize that the existing middle class made up of union and nonunion will eventually see their wages slow down as the cost of living still rises. I have shown reports and studies that point out that RTW overall is a failed policy. Now I'll go one more, here are some findings from two economists that further make my point, http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/clearinghouse_resources/facts_to_counter_economic_agruments_for_right-to-work_laws_01_12.pdf So when all is said and done, when researching the topic in detail, it seems pretty clear that RTW is a gamble and when passed only hurts middle class Americans. The middle class doesn't need this kind of help.
February 16, 2013 1:40 pm
Charles Grubbs said:
Thank you Mr. Paulding.Your comments have been most enlightening. It seems to me that the heart of your opposition to RTW laws is a belief that some folks want to attack the unions - fair enough, that certainly seems to be the case with some. And your opposition then is that some academic studies (and we all know that there are studies on all sides of an issue & they all point out how the "other guy" is wrong....part of that enterprise on both sides is called "justifying your own existence"); anyway, these studies say that there are statistically significant points which show that RTW laws are not helpful & are in fact harmful. It seems to me that your positive argument against RTW laws, then, is something like "RTW laws wind up decreasing the rate at which union wages increase, which we believe is bad for everyone; so, in order to keep our rate of increase higher, we think that it's the right thing to do to limit the rights of workers. Hence, keeping the union strong should take precedence over the rights of individuals, and should override their rights if it's possible for the union to be harmed by the exercise of those rights by those individuals." That's a very straightforward position, there's no double-speak there, no baloney-dishing there. I've tried to be fair in "adding up" what you and others have said. Please let me know if my "math skills" seem to you to be lacking. Regards, Charles Grubbs
February 16, 2013 5:33 pm
Mae Anderson said:
The Dems must protect their handlers.
February 16, 2013 6:21 pm
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