Please find below our 2014 Labor Day address entitled “Laboratories of Democracy”. Please feel free to share as widely as possible and have a wonderful and safe Labor Day!!!
LABORATORIES OF DEMOCRACY
US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis popularized the phrase “laboratory of democracy” to describe how a state should serve as an example for other states of what policies work and don’t work. As we celebrate “Labor Day” it’s important to consider how this relates to the policy known as “Right to Work”. Indiana and Michigan are the most recent “laboratories of democracies” in the right-to-work movement and statistics already show that the union rhetoric does not match the actual results in either state.
First, let’s look at Indiana and the claim that right-to-work legislation will destroy unions. Before 2012 when right-to-work legislation was passed, the AFL-CIO there was losing members at a record setting pace. Since its passage, the Indiana AFL-CIO has seen 3,000 new union workers join its membership list along with the same number of non-union members. In other words, a rising tides lifts all boats! Compare that to what some members of the Ironworkers 401 in Philadelphia were recently indicted for doing to increase THEIR membership. Charges were levied against union leaders to include harassment, arson, violence, intimidation, and vandalism. These tactics were used to convince business owners using other unions or those who chose to use non-union workers that they needed to use the Ironworkers 401. The “laboratory of democracy” in Indiana shows providing workers their freedom is a better way for unions to grow their membership.
Now let’s look at the other “laboratory of democracy” that recently passed right- to-work legislation. Unions in Michigan claimed adding additional competition to the mix as a result of passing right to work would cause wages to freefall. Since right to work passed in Michigan in December 2012, wages have actually gone UP. In fact, Michigan’s per-capita personal income increased from $38,291 in 2012 (before right to work became law) to $39,215 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That increase was the ninth highest in the country. This is consistent with findings in other states like Indiana and Oklahoma in which wages have gone up after right-to-work legislation passed. A study released recently by Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University suggests that if right to work had been applied nationally 35 years ago, wages would be $3,000 higher on average per person today with the overall effect varying slightly from state to state.
A recent poll showed that over 80% of Pennsylvanians think employees should have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union. Labor Day is a great time to ask a few questions. How many policy issues have 4 out of 5 people agree? Of those policies, how many of them would raise wages while bringing jobs (both union and non-union) to Pennsylvania? The answer of course, is not very many!!! So after you’re done celebrating Labor Day with your family, take a minute to contact your legislator and tell them you want Pennsylvania to be the next “Laboratory of Democracy” for Right to Work. It’s time to give Pennsylvania workers their freedom and unleash the state’s economy!!!
As always, thank you for all you do!
Director of Communication and Legislation
PA Right to Work