RTW – Taking aim at Michigan’s middle class

(From the New York Times one day prior to the Michigan vote on the issue)

The decline of the middle class in this country has paralleled that of the labor movement, which has been battered by the relentless efforts of business groups and Republicans to drive down wages, boost corporate profits and inflate executive salaries and bonuses.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to pass a law (which it did) that would allow workers to avoid paying dues to a union that represents their shop.

Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has reversed an earlier position and said he would sign the law (which he did).

These measures are misleadingly known as “right-to-work” laws. Concern for the rights of individual workers is not the real reason business is pushing so hard. Gutting unions is the fastest way to achieve lower wages and higher profits.

A study by the University of Notre Dame in January found that the average wages and benefits for nonfarm workers in right-to-work states was $57,732, while in states without the law it was $65,567.

States with anti-dues laws have higher rates of poverty and lower rates of health coverage.

At a diesel plant in Michigan just prior to the vote, President Obama said, “These so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

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