* See update at bottom.
As today’s government-union bosses push higher taxes, establish dues schemes to fund their bloated salaries and union-bought politicians, the evidence has become pretty clear: Government unions have become political, parasitic entities injuring taxpayers and the communities they control (see Central Falls and Providence, RI; Detroit, MI; and the once-great State of California for examples).
In the private sector, however, where taxpayers’ pockets are not in endless supply, the parasitic model of today’s unions, far too often, allows unions drain companies and ends up killing their hosts.
In large measure, the power unions have gained to cripple economies and companies comes from the ability to require workers to pay union dues (or have the workers fired from their jobs should they refuse to pay the union tribute).
In the public sector, union bosses have declared war on Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich, Florida’s Rick Scott and, to a lesser extent, Arizona’s Jan Brewer, for their threats to union treasuries through collective bargaining reform.
In the private sector, however, while Indiana finally became the 23rd state in the nation to became a Right-to-Work state—which outlaws unions from having workers fired for refusing to pay union dues—other states like, Maine and Ohio are considering the reform, as well.
In Ohio, for example, where unions spent in excess of $30 million to crush reforms to the Buckeye State’s antiquated laws governing collective bargaining for government unions, the state is among the worst states in the nation to do business—only topped by California, New Jersey and New York.
In their Pyrrhic victory in beating back reform, Ohio’s union bosses demonstrated they can dominate a state, regardless of the price. This, in part, may explain why Ohio is losing more high-tech jobs than the national average and companies like NCR are moving to more business-friendly climes like Georgia.
In the report [in PDF], Economist Richard Vedder and his colleagues state that Ohio’s residents would benefit if the Buckeye State enacted a right-to-work law, making Ohio a more attractive place to do business:
The typical Ohioan today would have a higher income and standard of living if the Buckeye State had matched the nation in its rate of economic growth in recent decades. However, it did not, and one reason is that the labor climate in the state is unattractive both to businesses making strategic investments and workers wishing to work.
According to the Hudson Hub Times, Right-to-Work may make it on Ohio’s ballot in 2013:
The report (available online at www.buckeyeinstitute.org) comes as backers of a constitutional amendment to make Ohio a right-to-work state are collecting signatures to place the issue before voters. They don’t expect to gain enough registered voters’ names to qualify for this year’s general election and are eyeing November 2013.
In addition to pointing out that Ohio’s “substandard performance performance with respect to economic growth since the late 1970’s would have been eliminated if a right-to-work law had been adopted several decades ago,” Vedder and company estimate that personal income for a family of four would have been $12,000 higher annually if Ohio had a right-to-work law in 1977.
The report provides an excellent analysis on the history of unions’ legal authority to coerce dues from workers, as well as the emergence of states’ ability to enact right-to-work laws in 1947 and the chronology of individual states’ enactment of those laws.
The report also provides a history of Ohio’s failed efforts to enact a right-to-work law in the late 1950s—much of it due to a lack of a clear and cohesive campaign. Like the recent SB5/Issue 2 campaign, where unions outspent and out organized collective bargaining reform proponents, the lack of a united front (right-to-work proponents were besieged with internal divisions in the late-50s) gave unions the upper hand to defeat right-to-work and solidified union power for decades.
Unions and their union dues-funded think tanks, like the Economic Policy Institute, continue to downplay and fight right-to-work laws by claiming right-to-work states have a negative effect on wages.
However, the Buckeye Institute report addresses that issue as well:
A recent study by Robert Reed helps clear some of the ambiguity by demonstrating that when one controls for the economic conditions of a state prior to its adoption of a RTW law, the relationship between RTW and wages is positive and statistically significant. Reed estimates that when “holding constant economic conditions in 1945—average wages in 2000 [were] 6.68 percent higher in RTW states than non-RTW states.”
The Buckeye Institute’s report on Ohio Right-to Work is an excellent read, both for the economic argument behind right-to-work, as well as the history of the effort in Ohio.
As Ohio continues to lag behind the nation due to the continued domination of unions in that state, over time, more may realize the right-to-work is right for Ohio (and elsewhere, as well).
* Update: Following the publication of this post, a reader e-mailed questioning whether my opinion has changed on whether right-to-work should be on the November (2012) ballot. It has not. 2012 is still not the right time for right-to-work in Ohio. However, the more Ohioans learn about the economic benefits of right-to-work, there may be a broader effort made in 2013 or beyond.
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.” — Andrew Brietbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com