02.02.2012 0

A very bad week for Big Labor

By Rick Manning — On Feb. 1, Indiana became the twenty third state in the nation to pass a right to work law, and the first in the formerly heavily unionized rust belt to do so.

After signing the legislation, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels released a statement saying, “The only change will be a positive one.”

“Indiana will improve still further its recently earned reputation as one of America’s best places to do business, and we will see more jobs and opportunity for our young people and for all those looking for a better life.”

The state of Indiana’s decision to allow workers to choose whether to join a labor union is likely to put competitive pressure on neighboring states like Michigan and Ohio to follow suit.

Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, called Indiana’s achievement, “a milestone that in ten years we will look back upon as the dam breaking in a tidal wave against forced unionization.”

The other bad news for Big Labor is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s state legislature’s passage of legislation to end Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on Jan. 31.

PLAs require that a government only award contracts to unionized firms.  It is estimated that PLAs add between 17-20 percent to the costs of construction projects due to higher labor costs.

If, as expected, the legislation is signed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonald, it will effectively open up competition for government contracts saving Virginia taxpayers millions of dollars.

Wilson, who has been at the forefront of the debate surrounding labor unions role in America said, “PLAs are nothing more than government promotion of labor union membership to the detriment of the people.  They benefit the coffers of labor unions who then contribute some of that money back to those government officials who support them.  If Virginia ends this pernicious practice, it will end the cycle of political payoffs that big labor depends upon for its survival. ”

The Indiana and Virginia actions follow the state of Wisconsin which successfully balanced its budget without laying off workers by changing the collective bargaining rules related to their public employee unions.  Ironically, the jobs of the members of the very unions that opposed the Wisconsin changes were saved by the aggressive and historic actions by the Wisconsin state legislature and Governor Scott Walker.

Wilson added, “It has been a very bad week and indeed a very bad year for Big Labor.  In spite of their attempting to use their power in the Obama Administration to push through illegal appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, and use that Board to shift the employment rules to their advantage, their losses in Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin signal that the days of Big Labor’s rule are coming to an end.”

The Department of Labor reports that about 7 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce are members of labor unions.   The impact of the Indiana decision is likely to send this number cascading lower as manufacturers invest in expanding their plants in the now worker choice state in lieu of neighboring states with forced unionization policies.

A very bad week for Big Labor indeed.

Rick Manning is the Communications Director for Americans for Limited Government and the former Public Affairs Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Labor

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