The Right to Work Isn’t

Yesterday, Michigan’s Republican governor signed the Republican lame-duck legislature’s improperly named “right to work” statute. Already, people are clamoring for a similar law to be passed in New York, so that we, too, can join the other, enlightened states that have such legislation – states like Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma. Tea party states. N0bama states. 

Giving laws exquisitely misleading names is a hallmark of the last few decades. The PATRIOT act offends most American values we used to hold dear. The Defense of Marriage Act doesn’t defend any marriage; it prevents the federal government from recognizing the legality of same-sex marriages if states allow them. There are tons more, and it’s a bipartisan issue

But “right to work” statutes sound fantastic – it would be great if the government actually instituted a law that gave people a fundamental right to work. However, such laws were actually a hallmark of Leninist dictatorships, where people were given make-work do-nothing jobs because who cares? Everyone works for the state, anyway. 

Isn’t it hilarious that the proponents of an American “right to work” scheme are the same people who shout “socialism” at a market-based, conservative Heritage Foundation-created Obamacare? They also scream “MARX” and “LENIN” at you when you suggest that we should join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee every American the right to access to quality health care. 

As an aside – if you yell “socialism” at everything Obama does, and the economy starts to improve – if your personal situation improves – then “socialism” is going to gain in popularity. Dummies. 

Back to Michigan and “right to work”. What it does is interfere with the right to contract. What it does is interfere with the right of workers to collectively organize and negotiate with management for better pay, better benefits, better work conditions. By weakening those labor protections, you weaken the right to organize and to freely associate. 

Right-to-work laws prohibit “union security agreements”, which are contracts between unions and management whereby the union can require labor to join a union as a condition of employment. This ensures that labor can effectively negotiate working conditions with management at something approaching a level playing field; it gives the exploited labor some leverage. What these laws are not is some sort of statutory guarantee of available employment for every citizen of a state. 

That’s not always how it shakes out. For instance, right-to-work North Carolina has a 9.3% unemployment rate right now, while liberal Massachusetts has a 6.6% rate. You’d think that employers, unshackled by unions, would flock to North Carolina and hire wildly.  Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped somewhat after it passed a right-to-work statute. No huge drop, however. And what do you give up for that? The right to work for crappy wages with crappy benefits? How does this help grow the middle class, or lift the middle class up? How does this advance our society in any meaningful way? How does this enhance the dignity of work? 

The American assault on labor began in earnest when Reagan broke the air traffic controller’s union. Since that time, wages have stagnated, and income inequality has skyrocketed. When you weaken labor, you turn America into a plutocratic banana republic, where the very rich pay off the politicians to ensure that their wealth is protected and secured at the expense of the remaining 99% of Americans. That’s what conservatism in America has wrought

Instead of making it easier for workers to be exploited more by their management, the government should be protecting the rights of workers to be treated fairly and equitably. We should be protecting the right of people to organize and associate with each other in order to ensure good treatment in the workplace. We should be expanding – not contracting – the rights of labor, and by doing that you strengthen America. An America where people don’t march in the streets when multinational corporations legally avoid paying taxes by exporting their profits to holding companies in tax havens. We don’t march in the streets when people shoplift so they can get chemotherapy treatment. We don’t march in the streets for much of anything, except to stand in line for Zhu Zhu Pets or to rail against some fantasy Kenyan socialism. 

What Michigan did is done, and perhaps its unemployment rate will drop, in time. But so will New York’s, and so will everyone else’s. The question is – what are the quality and type of the jobs being created, and why should we further erode the constitutional guarantee of free association. Instead, Michigan is about to free ownership to treat workers as fungible chattel. 

WTF, America?

Romney’s American Value: Lying

One of the reasons a local birther cited for choosing Mitt Romney over Barack Obama is that Romney is an American who holds American values with other Americans in America and has America’s best American interests at American heart. 

One of those American values must also involve lying

For instance, American Mitt Romney hopped on a Bloomberg story indicating that Jeep would return to the Chinese market. Jeep doesn’t make cars in China, and not a single car made in the People’s Republic of China is sold in the United States at this time.  That didn’t stop the Romney campaign from saying – with a straight face – that Obama is an outsourcer because Jeep will start building its cars in ChinaThe report was that Jeep would resume exporting American-made Jeeps to China. From Chrysler: 

There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach.

On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report “Fiat Says Jeep® Output May Return to China as Demand Rises” stated “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.

That didn’t stop the American Romney campaign from completely making something up out of whole cloth. On the American stump, Romney began saying that Jeep was going to start building cars in China. When Chrysler and the media pointed out that this was false,  American Romney doubled down on the lie and made an ad about it. It’s a lie. It’s false. Mitt Romney’s American or Mormon or whatever values allow him to just blatantly make stuff up

It’s so bad that it’s now actually become a thing. The Obama campaign is pouncing, Americanly