While Barack Obama puts Right to Work laws down in Labor Day stump speeches in Ohio, Big Labor apologists cannot deny Ohio’s economy is not flourishing. Although Ohio labor bosses and their supporting politicians believe Big Labor can control the upcoming elections’ results, things are not looking as rosy as they would like: almost half of union households voted for other candidates in the last election and union membership in Ohio has maintained a steady decline for decades.
Emily Wilkinsexplains in the Columbus Dispatch, while National Right to Work Committee editor Stan Greer explains why Ohio would do better to pass a Right to Work Law:
“I don’t see any factors on the immediate horizon that would let unions turn it around,’’ said Randall Ripley, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. “There are still unions. And they certainly can be important in turning out workers for campaigns. But in terms of real membership gain, I’m not sure I see much hope of a resurgence.’’
We Are Ohio insists it is not endorsing individual candidates, but there is no question Obama and Brown would benefit from a strong turnout of the same coalition members that last year banded together to defeat the collective bargaining bill.
The question is whether or not that will happen.
In the past 50 years, however, private sector unions have been fighting a ferocious headwind. Unskilled mass production jobs have been shifted abroad where wages are lower. U.S. companies have shed hundreds of thousands of jobs because they have made huge productivity gains.
“Manufacturing production is higher than it’s ever been, but it takes fewer workers to produce that,’’ said Stan Greer, newsletter editor for the National-Right-To-Work Committee.
In addition, companies in the Upper Midwest have shifted to southern states where right-to-work laws make it difficult for labor to organize unions. Greer pointed out that in right-to-work states from 2001 through 2011, wages and manufacturing output grew at a faster rate than states with union shops.
“By a wide range of measures,’’ Greer said, people are economically better off in right-to-work states.
Advocates of organized labor contend that unions have helped raise wages and led to more generous benefits for both unionized and non-unionized companies. Many companies in the United States have to offer competitive compensation packages to lure the best employees to their firms.
For the near future, however, union organizers are resigned to seeing their membership numbers decline.
“We have not seen the toughest day yet for overall union membership in Ohio,’’ said Rugola, adding, “When enough Wal-Mart employees and enough employees of tech firms, insurance companies and finance corporations become disaffected with the life that they live and see the growing wealth inequity in the country, people will turn back to the trade union movement because that’s the only place they can go.’’