Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Obama: Michigan GOP Offers "The Right To Work For Less Money"

Speaking at a Daimler Detroit Diesel plant on Monday, President Obama criticized the push by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature to enact "right-to-work" laws. Obama told the cheering crowd, "What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money." Watch:



OBAMA: We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families... What we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. 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... We don't want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top. America's not going to compete based on low skill, low wage, no workers' rights.

3 comments:

Michael The Molar Maven said...

I believe this issue to be far more complex than either side is willing to accept. On the surface it would seem intuitive that in a free and open society nobody should be forced against his or her will to join a union in order to work. After all, a physician can practice medicine in the United States without joining the American Medical Association. On the other hand, those who choose not to join would inevitably gain by the union activities without paying dues - in essence, freeloading. We see that right here in the hospitals in NYC, where Ney York Hospital, in order to keep unions (specifically 1199) out, conitnually pay slightly higher wages than the unions negotiate with union hospitals such as NYU. (Full disclosure: my wife works for NYU and has, in the past been a member of 1199. She is now management.) New York Hospital workers are effectively freeloading off NYU (and others) empolyees.

However, I don't see right to work legislation as a means of obtaining cheaper labor only. It is, of course, in part, that. But management/labor relationship is not the symbiotic alliance it should be. It is a pendulum that swings back and forth resulting in a destructive tug-of-war. Originally unions were necessary to combat the abusiveness of mamagement as the industrial era took hold.

But now, when so many people have had to sacrifice due to a sluggish economy, when so many people have watched their retirement funds become inadequate due to undetectibly low interest rates, while union workers have guaranteed benefits negotiated by politicians drooling for votes but paid for through taxes, we can certainly understand why the non-union public would feel some resentment. And it would be in the unions best interest to addess public concerns rather than dismiss them outright.

On the other hand, public outrage at unions may be a bit short-sighted as it benefits all of us if all workers are paid to their potential, and if it takes unified labor to achieve that, so be it.

As I said, this is not, in any way, a simple matter. The complexity warrants serious debate, not sound bites.

BTW, the unions obsession with seniority as opposed to quality of work is a major concern for me. And, once again, my family has personal experience with this from both labor and mangement perspectivce.

Jeff Tone said...

I'd caution you on one point: management and the Republicans use a divide-and-conquer policy to divide union from non-union workers. As a result, there's pressure to lower wages and benefits instead of the opposite.

Jeff Tone said...

I'd caution you on one point: management and the Republicans use a divide-and-conquer policy to divide union from non-union workers. As a result, there's pressure to lower wages and benefits instead of the opposite.