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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Op/Ed: How the Midwest Was Won for the 1%: Right to Work for Less

Photo Credit- The - MLK was against Right to Work for Less
Photo Credit- The
MLK was against Right to Work for Less
This piece will be a bit reflective but not too long in nature. To start, in the readers mind let us travel back to a time where all the core Midwest States supported the rights for workers to unionize.

It would be the year two thousand eight. Slightly prior to the 2008 election of America's First African-American President, Barack Obama.

What are the Midwest Core states of the historical Northwest Territory: Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois. 
Photo Credit - The Original Northwest Territory
Photo Credit

Two of these states in the years since 2008 are now Right to Work for Less - or widely known as Right to Work. The States are Michigan and Indiana.

In the other three states it appears RTW is literally around the corner from being enacted.

Especially in Wisconsin where non-college graduate Governor and budding Presidential candidate Scott Walker (R) is pushing for the state Assembly to pass RTW before the end of February, or by no later than early March.

Photo Credit - Daily Kos- Illinois  Republican Governor Bruce Rauner
Photo Credit - Daily Kos- Illinois
 Republican Governor Bruce Rauner

Rumor has it Illinois Republican governor Bruce Rauner will do his very best to push some version of RTW through, despite a Democratic Legislature.

Gov. Rauner has signed an recent Executive Order allowing 
for Illinois state Government employees to "opt-out" of paying union dues.

"Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order earlier this month that effectively created a right-to-work system for government employees in the state," reported by Justin Glawe of Al Jazeera America on February 22. "But the move — which bars public-sector unions from automatically collecting fees from nonunion workers — is just the latest and boldest step in what union leaders say is a mounting assault on Illinois’ labor movement."
Full implementation of Rauner's RTW for State Government Employees has been blocked albeit very temporarily by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and the States' Comptroller Leslie Munger.

Munger has thus far refused to enforce the Governor Rauner's Executive Order, and A.G. Madigan appears to be readying for a legal battle making a beeline right to the U.S. District Court of North Illinois.

"Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has sided with Munger and declared the order unconstitutional. In anticipation of this, Rauner filed a federal lawsuit the same week as his executive order asking for a ruling on the fees’ constitutionality," the Al Jazeera article cites. 
"A decision on the case, before the U.S. District Court in northern Illinois, would override Madigan’s position."

Meanwhile, driving the Tri-State Tollway up for Illinois to Wisconsin, it more than appears
Governor Scott Walker (R) is ready to declare the Badger state Right to Work for Less.

Walker, a Republican vying to strangely become President of the United States without a
Photo Credit - Crooks and Liars- Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker
Photo Credit - Crooks and Liars- Wisconsin
Republican Governor Scott Walker
college degree to speak of mission appears to be pulling himself as far possible to the right, in a vain effort to win the Republican Presidential nomination.

And at least in the early GOP Caucus state of Iowa, it's working....

"Walker is leading a crowded field of potential presidential candidates in Iowa with 25% of likely Republican caucus-goers throwing their support to Walker in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The Iowa caucus will be the first test for presidential hopefuls and while the last two GOP winners didn't get far in the primary process, the caucus is a crucial test of conservative credentials and can help signal some candidates off the campaign trail," according to CNN. 
"Libertarian favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky came in second in the poll with 13% of support while former Gov. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 caucus winner, and Tea Party darling Ben Carson closely followed with 11% each," CNN cited. Walker also topped the list of second picks, with 13% listing Walker as their second choice.
Why RTW for Governor Walker? Why now when he could have easily made RTW his core Governmental mission in 2012, like Walker's twin Republican Governor to the East of Lake Michigan, Rick Snyder did that same year?

As Walker says or will boast on any corporate media news channel allowing the college dropout to grace his presence, Walker "winning" three elections since 2008 in Wisconsin --including a recall effort-- has embolden his ego to believe he can do anything.

Especially if Walker has the Koch Brothers American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Bradley Foundation, State Policy Network and a huge Right Wing War Chest of never ending funds, behind him.

"The Bradley Foundation, with nearly half a billion dollars in assets, regularly hands out $30 million to $40 million a year. One Wisconsin said the organization is among the largest right-wing funding foundations in the country," reported on the Wisconsin Gazette. Additionally, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the State Policy Network took in over $200,000 in 2011 and 2012 from the effort. Nearly $500,000 went to the anti-organized labor Center for Union Facts and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund. 
Bradley also gave $140,000 to the Koch brothers-aligned Americans for Prosperity Foundation that partnered with the Wisconsin MacIver Institute to run a multi-million dollar ad campaign that declared "it's working" in relation to the jobs and economic policies enacted by Walker," the Wisconsin Gazette article cited.
Rolling the opposite way from Wisconsin on I-94 passing into Indiana and Michigan, neither state has seen the bold claims promised in job creation by Republican Governor's Mike Pence (Indiana) or Rick Snyder (Michigan) in 2012 with Right to Work for Less.

In fact, after enacting RTW and cutting to near non-existence business taxes, Michigan faces a over $600 million dollar plus deficit.

"News broke today that the Snyder administration knew about the state’s massive budget shortfall last October while Gov. Rick Snyder campaigned on the premise that he had consistently balanced the budget," Progress Michigan cited in a Press Release on February 18. 
Photo Credit - MLive- Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder
Photo Credit- MLive-Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder 
Lawmakers were told that the state’s tax liability through Michigan Economic Development Corporation MEGA tax credits is $9.38 billion, according to MIRS News, which is almost the entirety of the state’s General Fund Budget during the fiscal year," cited Progress Michigan. 
The state is on the hook for the tax credits through 2031 at varying levels, topping off at $607 million by 2029 and declining after."
“With the MEDC doling out budget-busting tax credits and Gov. Snyder being aware of the situation, but not disclosing it to voters, it’s time for some much-needed transparency across the board,” Progress Michigan Director Lonnie Scott continued. “Giving huge tax credits to corporations without any accountability to the public is clearly a problem — and Gov. Snyder knew it. It’s time we opened up the books, disclosed lobbying and allowed the public and the media to dig into the actions of the MEDC.”
Also RTW Michigan has not created the promised "jobs" either.
“You need 10 years before you can reasonably measure any impact of the adoption of right-to-work law in any state,” said Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy told the Detroit Free Press.
Ten years? Seriously!

Over in Indiana no new business job growth and drop in the median wages of workers that
Photo Credit - Politico - Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence
Photo Credit - Politico -
Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence
take place in a RTW states, makes the Hooster state similar to Michigan in more ways than one.

"It has not impacted us one single bit,” said Chet Fincher, business manager for Carpenters Local 615. “The biggest thing about Right to Work is it was a union-busting effort. I don’t believe it brings in business. I don’t believe a lot of the statistics they give to prove their point. The thing that Right to Work does is it puts a stigma on the state," reporter Pat Munsey wrote for the Kokomo Perspective. It means people don’t have to pay union dues, but that doesn’t mean contractors suddenly can do what they want. 
“Wages drop in a Right to Work state. Training drops in Right to Work states. It’s amazing that people think it’s a free-for-all to infringe on people’s rights. All this did was pad some politicians’ pockets.”
Ohio is not RTW yet. However Governor John Kasich is feeling the pressure from 1%
Photo Credit - Hey - Ohio Republican Governor John Kasic
Photo Credit - Hey -
Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich
percenters to do so before the end of 2015.

"Ohio proponents will use Michigan and Indiana as examples when they advance their right to work legislation next session (in 2015). 
Two versions of the bill introduced this year will die with the end of the year, but Greg Lawson, a policy analyst at the conservative Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said he expects right to work to return in 2015," a Washington Post article cites.
"Right to work advocates learned their lesson from the 2011 battle over Senate Bill 5, Lawson said, and they plan to lay a more comprehensive foundation to avoid a public relations backlash once their measure is introduced," reporter Reid Wilson wrote.
“It’s going to take a lot of tilling of the soil,” Lawson said. 
"Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is one patch of soil that will need some attention. Kasich told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board this year that he hadn’t heard any complaints about right to work laws from CEOs looking to open facilities in Ohio," the article stated. Still, he did not say definitively whether he would support or oppose any legislation that might land on his desk."
In the end, although the Midwest five states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin are not all totally won yet.

However, workers in each of these states who have not enacted RTW for Less - Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin-- need to be keenly aware the agenda of 1% percenters include ending your rights bargain for fair wages and benefits, along with weakening the power of any organized union group to do so for you in the near future. 

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