Posts Tagged ‘right to work states’

Right to work victory in Michigan

December 12, 2012

The United States of America is now almost evenly divided between 24 right to work states (not by accident only two of these are in the rust belt) and 26 no right to work states.  Yesterday Michigan became the 24th state to embrace right to work status.

What is significant about yesterday’s switch is that Michigan is the historic bastion of big labor, home to the once-biggest and most powerful labor union in the nation the UAW. How indeed have the mighty fallen on the field of battle. Barack Obama beat his bully pulpit last week to keep Michigan in the hands of Big Labor.  But on this contentious issue, even the Messiah struck out.

‘Right to work’ states ban unions from requiring union membership and union dues from any individual who works in a union-recognized company or industry.  This is an important ban. It denies the union any right to force union membership or to extract union dues from the paycheck of any unwilling employee. Implicitly, the union therefore cannot deploy such coerced membership and monetary  extractions in lobbying support for political candidates not favored by individuals working in a labor-recognized company.

Since Big Labor almost always supports union-favoring  Democrats running for political office, right to work states  confirm the right of any individual, wherever he is employed, to support candidates of his choice, or not to support anyone at all. That is a basic freedom that Big Labor and the Democratic Party jointly despise. And yet the leaders of Big Labor and of the Democratic Party happily mouth empty words about ‘The Land of the Free’!

Right to work states typically are more attractive to new enterprise, hence the term rust belt for many of the states that favor Big Labor.  In October 2012, right to work states averaged 6.9 per cent unemployment as compared with the national average of 7.6 per cent. Wages tend to be about 10 per cent lower in right to work states. Big labor protects the wage rates of its members while losing members rapidly because of over-pricing. So Obama was basically correct, at least in the short run, in claiming that ‘right to work’ allows individuals to work for less money. Of course, he did not stress the allowed to work part of that statement. For example, in 2004, the UAW boasted 654,000 active members.  In 2012, its membership is down to 380,000 and many of those are living off taxpayer subsidies.

But the real benefit provided by right to work status is political and economic freedom. And lovers of liberty attach a high value to those freedoms.

Washington Princes of Darkness Torment the Rising Sun

February 26, 2010

“There is striking evidence that the company was at times more concerned with profit than with customer safety.”  Representative Edolphus Downs (Democrat-New York, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ) February 24, 2010.

“It is my understanding there are no Americans in the top leadership in Japan.  It might be a good idea to put a couple Americans in the top leadership.”  Representative John J. (Jimmy) Duncan Jr. (Republican-Tennessee and Member of the HOGRC) February 24, 2010 (maybe good idea brush up grammar, Jimmy).

“Toyota North America has some great people there, very professional, good people.  we work with them. They make recommendations to Japan.  The decisions are made in Japan.”  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ( in testimony before the HOGRC) February 24, 2010 (a trifle racist, do you not think Mr. Lahood?)

“I said. Lookit: This is serious. Lives are being lost. Right after that, they started taking action.”  Ray Lahood (the same meeting; the grammar problem appears to be catching at HOGRC).

“Toyota may be interested in trading dollars for lives, despite the likelihood of its products causing deaths and injuries, but its customers’ aren’t.”  Joan Claybrook, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under President Carter.  Her chief claim to fame at NHTSA was forcing automakers to install air bags despite warnings that the technology needed further development to avoid killing infants and children.  At least 65 deaths resulted, including infants and children who were decapitated by the exploding devices. (Source: The Washington Examiner, February 25 , 2010).

“All the Toyota vehicles bear my name.  When the cars are damaged, it is as though I am, as well.” Akio Toyoda ( the grandson of the founder of the world’s largest automaker) Testifying before the HOGRC February 24, 2010.

“I am deeply sorry for any accidents Toyota drivers have experienced.” Akio Toyoda (once again).

“We will listen to customer complaints humbly.” Akio Toyoda (once again).

“We apologize for the embarrassing way some members of Congress treated you these past few days.  If Bill Gates had been treated the way you were in your country, imagine what would happen. We sincerely apologize.” Paul Atkinson, who represents a Toyota council of dealers in the United States.

Well, Mr. Toyoda  (like Mr. Smith before him)  came to Washington. Like Mr. Smith, his welcoming  hosts gripped him warmly by the throat. Like Mr. Smith, Mr. Toyoda brought civility, good manners, and good grammar to a place where those attributes do not appear to flourish; most especially when campaign funding is on the line and can be brazenly pursued before the entire nation’s  television cameras. Oh, would it be impolite to mention that Mr. Toyoda incidentally brings a large number of well-paying  blue-as well as white-collar  jobs to the United States?  I suppose that it would be, since these jobs are (gasp!) Japanese creations!

Readers of this column will know that the United States government is a not entirely disinterested party in this episode of Japanese assault and battery.  The Obama administration currently owns Government Motors, the company that was  driven into Chapter 11 bankruptcy while under Obama  administration ownership and control in spring 2009, in large part, because it was outcompeted by Toyota. The Obama administration is also a significant minority shareholder in Chrysler, another failed automobile manufacturer that was placed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy while under the control of President Obama’s administration in April 2009.

Well, the situation is a little more sinister even that that, as the breakdown of ownership in Government Motors and Chrysler indicates.  In the case of GM, the US government owns 61 per cent of company stock, the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) owns 17.5 per cent through its retirees’ health-care trust,  the Canadian government owns 11.7 per cent, and the poor bondholders from the old GM, whose priority as preferred creditors was  expropriated by the UAW,  own the remaining 9.8 per cent.

In the case of Chrysler LLC, Fiat SpA owns 35 per cent of company stock, the US government holds 8 per cent of the company’s stock, while the old company’s largely expropriated secured lenders own a derisory residual 2 per cent. The United Auto Workers Union, an unsecured creditor of the old company,  that should have received no stock in its successor, is the majority stockholder, with effective control over the company, owning  55 per cent of the company’s stock.

Well, Dear Readers, the plot against Toyota surely thickens. Not only is Mr. Toyoda berated, with poor grammar, by Ray Lahood, on behalf of  the Obama administration, itself a significant shareholder in two of his company’s three major US rivals.  He also suffers verbal abuse from members of two congressional committees that are largely bought and paid for by the UAW. Follow-the-money is always the safest guideline to understanding  congressional posturing, especially when such posturing takes a threatening tone.  Such is the humbling, but not not the humiliating experience of Mr. Toyoda during his time served on Capitol Hill.  Such is the humbug that permeates the corridors of Capitol Hill.

Toyota has long been a thorn in the flesh of the UAW.  For decades, Toyota  has resisted attempts by the UAW to unionize its workforce.  It has done so by locating its production plants in the ‘right to work’ states of  Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi, by creating excellent working conditions in its plants, and by offering  job security through the satisfaction of consumer demands for safe, high-quality, and relatively inexpensive motor cars. By its example, it has demonstrated to those employed by GM, Chrysler and Ford, that job security does not spring from restrictive, productivity-lowering union practices, and that high wages are not secured by excessively high wage and benefits packages negotiated under the threat of disruptive strike action.

The UAW is a major player in congressional politics, a powerful special interest doling out campaign contributions to those who can deliver the Michigan bacon.  UAW monies have bought out 19 of 36 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. UAW  monies have bought out 12 of 25 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (The Washington Examiner,  February 25, 2010).  It is no wonder – no wonder at all- – that the gracious Mr. Toyoda was received with such an absence of grace by those two committees on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Letters of support for Toyota  have been filed by the Governors of the States of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.  Those letters do not demonstrate any hostility to the Rising Sun.  But then, those letters were not written by Princes of Darkness. Those letters were written  by far-sighted Governors, speaking out on behalf of the citizens of their States. They were not penned from inkpots stuffed with UAW dollars.

By the way, a recent Zogby poll found that 64 per cent of those surveyed considered Toyotas, on average, to be safer than (18 per cent) or equally safe as (47 per cent) other vehicles. One can only wonder  how that poll data might  change following the two days of congressional hearings. Interestingly, no such hearing has been called to deal with the many vehicle recalls by Ford, GM and Chrysler in recent years. Dear Readers, can you speculate why that dog has not barked in the darkness of the Washington night?


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