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rtw legislation a raw deal for michigan

December 11, 2012

Michigan just got a raw deal with the signing of two bills “sharply limiting labor rights.” This is exactly the opposite of what we, while coming out of a severe recession, should be doing to move forward, in my opinion. If anything, we should be trying to repeal things like the anti-union Taft–Hartley Act, not utilizing it to pass even more laws limiting labour rights that ultimately serve to weaken already beleaguered unions and drive down wages, e.g., according to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states.

Even from the point of view of capital, it’s counterproductive. Workers are consumers, and if workers get paid less, they have less with which to consume. Less consumption means less demand, which translates into less growth (and that’s bad for capitalism). The small advantage capital and employers will get by restricting the ability of unions to collect fees from employees who benefit from union-negotiated contracts and prohibiting closed shops (i.e., places requiring employees at unionized workplaces to be members of the union as a condition of employment) will ultimately turn around and bite them in the ass, although it’ll be the working class that suffers the most as usual.

What we really need, however, is more militant and radicalized unions that are not only more focused on organizing and agitating workers than simply acting as a mediator between capital and labour that negotiates contracts, but that are also willing to continuously fight for their demands, striking if need be and agreeing to return to work only when their demands are met. Until then, unions will not only continue to decline while losing battle after battle, but they’ll find themselves completely irrelevant since it’s their role as an organized and unbending challenge to capital that they’re truly useful to the working class.


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