Society

House Republicans Introduce New Right-To-Work Bill

| by Oren Peleg

On Feb. 1, House Republicans are set to introduce a so-called "right-to-work" bill. Such legislation is aimed at breaking up unions, and stripping workers of their rights, a trend that began in earnest in the 1980s with former President Ronald Reagan.

According to The Huffington Post, the bill will enable workers to draw their support from a union while still receiving the union's benefits. Such laws have been proposed before -- however, support for this bill is expected to be high.

"[B]usinesses prefer locating in states where costs are low and rules are lax — something I think we all knew already," Kevin Drum wrote for Mother Jones in 2012. "Of course that's what businesses prefer. But it says literally nothing at all about whether the United States as a whole would have higher or lower growth if every state either did or didn't have right-to-work laws."

A 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute shows very little evidence in support of right-to-work laws. "Right-to-work laws have not succeeded in boosting employment growth in the states that have adopted them," the report found. "The case of Oklahoma ... is particularly discouraging regarding the law’s ability to spur job growth. Since the law passed in 2001, manufacturing employment and relocations into the state reversed their climb and began to fall, precisely the opposite of what right-to-work advocates promised."

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And the argument in favor of unions is strong.

"The average manufacturing production worker in Michigan earns $20.80 an hour, vs. $18.86 in South Carolina, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics," notes FiveThirtyEight. "Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions."

But a spokeswoman for Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina who is a sponsor of the new right-to-work proposal, believes the legislation will have no issue passing through Congress, reports The Huffington Post.

Leacy Burke wrote on Jan. 31: “Similar legislation has been introduced in the past, but we believe that this year, the legislation could garner more support than ever before.”

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Sources: The Huffington Post, Economic Policy Institute, Mother Jones, FiveThirtyEight / Photo credit: Ford Motor Company/Flickr

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