There’s a new poll of West Virginia’s registered voters by Mark Blankenship Enterprises that says that over 66% of WV’s registered voters support the creation of a right-to-work law in West Virginia. Although I haven’t seen a reference to it in either of our local "newspapers," the poll’s results have gotten wide coverage in WV media.
The majority of online media that I have seen take the poll at face value despite the fact that the poll was commissioned by Americans for Prosperity – West Virginia, the Koch brothers political influence group. Spokesperson for the poll is Wendy McCuskey, who is state director of AFP West Virginia. (McCuskey and her Koch group, if you remember, got in trouble prior to the last election when they sent mailers to registered WV voters questioning whether they were actually registered.) Additionally, McCuskey’s background (her previous job was president of the West Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors) also ought to have been mentioned by the media so that their viewers/readers would have the necessary information to decide whether this was indeed an unbiased poll of what West Virginian’s think about right-to-work laws.
The poll may be correct that a majority of West Virginians support right-to-work. Still, I find it appalling that the state’s media do not raise any questions regarding the fact that an avowed anti-union organization sponsored and disseminated the poll.
I’m sure we will soon read the results of the poll in our local "newspapers" although I’m sure it will not question its credibility.
From Myer's Saturday column:
Officials of the combative Service Employees International Union are attempting to rally organized labor for a "Purple Power" day at the Capitol on that day. The idea is to pressure lawmakers into voting against right-to-work.
Claims that such measures are attempts to wreck unions ignore a simple fact: Right-to-work laws, now on the books in about half the states, do no such thing. They merely ensure that workers are not required as a condition of employment to be union members and pay union dues. It's a simple matter of freedom of choice.
To Myer, it’s just a "matter of freedom of choice" and using that language makes it difficult to be against it just like it’s difficult to be against "a right to work." To that end, Myer oversimplifies the arguments on the other side. Here is another point of view from a Teamster’s official in yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal that explains why unions are opposed to right-to-work laws:
RTW laws let the worker at a union job stop paying dues, but the union is still required by law to provide all services to the non-dues-paying worker.
The freeloader gets all the benefits of the union for free, even though it costs money to employ local union business agents who negotiate those great wages and benefits that the freeloader came to the union job for in the first place, including negotiated perks like pensions, paid insurance and higher wages.
The union is also still required under RTW laws to help with grievances and terminations, etc., of the freeloader.
But if everyone is freeloading, the union will not be able to afford the costs associated with fair representation, and eventually there will be no one to help the freeloader or the union member – and that is the ultimate goal of RTW: to weaken or eliminate the union and thereby weaken the workers’ position in the workplace.
(Note – this is obviously a biased source. Rather than using the Myer over-simplification, I used it to more accurately reflect the union point of view.)
What do the studies suggest about the effects of right-to-work laws? There are lots of studies out there to prove whichever side you’re on. In looking for a fair summary of the studies, I found a relatively balanced article by Brad Plummer in the Washington Post. Plummer examined "What do right-to-work laws do to a state’s economy?" Among his conclusions:
So what effects do these laws have? There's a dizzying amount of research on the subject, but a few broad conclusions have emerged over the years: Right-to-work laws do weaken labor unions. The laws appear to tilt the balance of power so that workers reap fewer of the gains from growth. And it's still hard to find definitive evidence that right-to-work laws help (or harm) a state's overall economy.
His article elaborates on each of these points and he actually provides links to his sources.
Compare that with the Myer column which starts with an ad hominem attack on the union -- it’s "combative" and a glowing recommendation "it's such a common-sense bill that I have a feeling it will be enacted" and ends with a gross simplification of the issue: "It’s a simple matter of freedom of choice."