imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Defeating “Right to Work”

by Mark Vorpahl Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at 9:01 PM
portland@workerscompass.org

The passage in Michigan of the anti-worker legislation grotesquely misnamed “Right to Work” (RTW) should be putting the entire nation on red alert. The downward pressure on the standard of living such bills unleash on the vast majority extend well beyond the union ranks. The bill’s success in Michigan, a pivotal state for organized Labor, indicates the unfolding of a national campaign by RTW’s backers.

Like the looming cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and other necessary social programs targeted by a bi-partisan Grand Bargain, this RTW campaign demonstrates that all expectations workers have held in regards to maintaining “the American way of life” are under attack by the big business powers behind our political system. Unless we are prepared to unite and fight these efforts by any means necessary, the lives of future generations will be rendered short and mean for the sake of corporate profit.

The mettle for this fight was abundantly evident at Michigan’s state capital in Lansing on the day the RTW was passed. Up to 1,200 gathered to have their opposition heard. They were greeted with pepper spray by the police and arrogant indifference by RTW’s backers. This was endured by the protesters in spite of the fact that the passage of the bill was largely viewed as inevitable. The determination to turn around the one-sided class war against RTW’s supporters exists. What is necessary is the political perspective and strategies to win.

RTW’s Results

While labor law necessitates that unions represent all workers under their jurisdiction, RTW laws mean that workers at the workplace where a union exists are not required to join the union and therefore are not required to pay dues, meaning that the union has less money to finance its campaigns. Nevertheless, when the union negotiates a contract at this workplace, those who are not in the union benefit from it just as much as those who are in the union. As a result, the union is divided into “dues payers” and “free loaders,” weakening their ability to take united action in their own interests. Union organizing becomes focused more on overcoming this division rather than advancing collective strength.

Consequently, the downward pressure results not only for union workers’ wages and rights, but also non-union workers as well. The Economic Policy Institute has reported that employees in RTW states earn $1,500 less annually. This does not include the erosion of benefits, rights, and safety standards.

In regards to the significance of RTW being approved in Michigan, Brad Plumer of the Washington Post wrote:

The right-to-work bill in Michigan is also an indicator of a broader trend in the United States. As Rich Yeselson details, Michigan is one of the most heavily unionized states in the country, with 17.5 percent of workers belonging to a union. The United Autoworkers is one of the most storied unions in the country. If Michigan, of all places, is no longer safe from sweeping revisions to its labor laws, then none of the remaining pro-union states in the Midwest and Northeast are immune.

In a country where the strength of organized labor has already been dwindling for decades, that’s a major change.

Corporate Extremism

Given the extremist corporate agenda behind RTW in Michigan, it is no wonder why it was signed so quickly without a single public hearing in a lame duck session. It took a sucker punch to get it passed. Any show of a genuinely democratic process would allow for its likely defeat. It is for this reason that Michigan’s RTW also had a $1 million appropriation attached to it. State law prevents the repeal of spending bills through a popular vote.

Who are the forces behind Michigan’s RTW? United Auto Workers President Bob King has said that the Koch brothers and Amway owner Dick Devos “bullied and bought their way to get this legislation in Michigan.” While the exact behind the curtain schemes may never be known, there can be little doubt that King is correct. The Koch brothers and Devos are major political players for the 1%, and it is only the 1% who benefit from RTW.

This elite claims that RTW encourages business growth in the states it is enacted. While the evidence for this is dubious, to say the least, RTW will result in higher profits and lower wages because business owners will more easily be able to pay their workers less in the absence of a strong union that could push against increased exploitation.

This situation is hardly a recipe for economic recovery. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy depends on domestic consumption. If workers are less able to afford the goods and services created for this consumption, in part, because of RTW laws, the economy will contract rather than expand. This suits the 1% fine since they maintain their wealth and increase their power over the political system. For workers it is a race to the bottom.

Given this, and that Michigan’s RTW passage will likely be attempted in other states, it is necessary to prepare in advance to combat such measures.

Fighting Back

In Michigan, there is talk of recall efforts aimed at those who voted for RTW as well as defeating Governor Synder in 2014. Similar efforts in Wisconsin failed to reverse Governor Walker’s attacks on public workers’ wages, benefits, and collective bargaining rights. The strategy contributed to derailing a social movement and knocking the wind out of it once the votes were counted. These results were largely because Walker’s Democrat opponent, Tom Barrett, agreed with the Governor that the state’s budget needed to be balanced at public workers’ expense — he only disagreed with eliminating collective bargaining. This difference was not enough to convince Wisconsin voters to dump the devil they knew for another.

In Michigan, as long as efforts to reverse RTW are focused on supporting corporate Democrat Party politicians, the same fate is inevitable. A different source of power must be put into play other than the ability to turn out votes.

A strategy to reverse RTW in Michigan, and prevent anti-worker laws in other states must be based on politically independent mass action. That is, they must aim to build the largest possible demonstrations, occupations, and, if need be, strikes. If the policies of a government attack the well-being of workers and their communities, then these workers must, in an organized and strategic way, prove themselves to be ungovernable until these policies are sent to the shredder. Unions are the only existing organizations that have the institutional capacity to act in the interests of all workers and lead such struggles.

Acts of civil disobedience that involve only a few hundred will not challenge the economic elite and their political policies by themselves, even if led by the unions. Such acts are easily contained by the cops and courts, and can, consequently, result in demoralization. Rather than being side-tracked by such tactics, Labor must seek to educate and mobilize its own membership, in alliance with other grass roots organizations, on the issues that affect all workers. That is, Labor must spare no costs in building an independent social movement by mobilizing tens of thousands to get out into the streets.

Like the RTW, the looming Grand Bargain cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other public programs seeks to make workers pay for the failures of a system geared towards huge profits for the 1%. If Labor’s leadership was aiming to mobilize millions of working people against these cuts, it would be better prepared to defeat RTW in Michigan and elsewhere. That is because such an effort would create an active national network that could spring into action the moment Governor Synder announced his willingness to sign onto RTW.

The future is at stake to a degree perhaps never seen before in the U.S. The boldness of our campaigns need to match this challenge.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
RTW = Rob the Workers johnk Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Local News

Jewish “Defense” League: Nazis in Skull-caps A07 11:13AM

Nuke Shutdown News 3/17 A01 4:13PM

RELATIONS STILL STRAINED BETWEEN SOUTH LOS ANGELES RESIDENTS AND THE POLICE M22 3:22PM

Elect a Green to Congress in Los Angeles M15 2:18AM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 1:46PM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 1:09PM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 12:19PM

24TH ANNUAL LOS ANGELES WOMEN’S THEATRE FESTIVAL HONORS COMPOSER MEGAN CAVALLARI ON MARCH F24 2:40PM

Activists Mark 150 Years Since Chimney Rock Massacre F21 7:00PM

Indivisible local events F16 4:07PM

Help Wanted: How You Can Act Locally To Stymie Trump’s Agenda F16 11:24AM

RACE RELAY - race relations dialogue F16 7:01AM

LA County Greens Oppose S F09 8:52PM

Our Revolution L.A Organizing Meeting F08 12:23AM

First We Marched. Now We Huddle F06 10:54PM

Indigenous, Sacred Lands Disrespected at L.A. Women's March J24 1:52PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 8:22PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 8:00PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 7:42PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 6:04PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 5:48PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 5:30PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Puerto Rico Oversight Board Meets as Bankruptcy Deadline Approaches A27 7:19AM

San Diego based "strike force" Still Heading to Korea A26 8:09PM

California won its first major battle over `sanctuary cities' A26 5:40PM

Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Call for Bankruptcy Ahead of "Vulture Fund" Deadline A25 6:55AM

The Missile Attack Ordered by Trump is a Serious Crime A25 5:55AM

"Train to Zakopane’ Starring Tanna Frederick World Premiere at Jewish Film Festival A24 4:22PM

Polish citizens attacked by electromagnetic weapons - Opoen letter to European Commission A23 11:50AM

Video: March for Science, April 22, 2017, 4 hours A22 3:05PM

Social Security works. Don't let Trump destroy it A22 2:25PM

Get The Internationalist No. 47! A21 8:39PM

The Shortwave Report 04/21/17 Listen Globally! A20 4:45PM

Reich USA A19 9:03PM

Reich A19 8:56PM

Trumponomics: Failure Pre-Programmed A19 7:37AM

Global Economic Risks Ahead Warns International Monetary Fund A19 6:49AM

IMF Warns of "Protectionism" and Risky Investing A18 7:44AM

Rigged reform - Oxfam Media Briefing, April 12, 2017 A17 6:51AM

Les élections du capital et du système A17 12:20AM

San Diego warships leading charge against North Korea A15 4:09PM

Source, encodeur, signal, décodeur, destinataire A15 3:42AM

Illegal Purchase Of Execution Drugs As Ark. GOP Gov Hutchinson Seeks To Murder 8 Prisoner A14 12:14PM

Puerto Rico Oversight Board Mediates Last Ditch Debt Negotiations A14 7:25AM

Poverty Returns with Misguided Policy A14 4:50AM

La mémoire des vaincus, les vrais vainqueurs A14 3:57AM

The Shortwave Report 04/14/17 Listen Globally! A13 4:59PM

A13 12:58AM

Eschatologie stochastique A13 12:40AM

EROTIC, POP & ABSTRACT ART AT: DavidGoldnerDesign.com A12 11:21AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy