Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's Hard To Keep A Good Union Down

In 2012, the state of Indiana passed Right to Work legislation in an effort to bust the unions.  Things didn't work out quite the way they had planned:
Two years after Indiana became a right-to-work state, the membership decline unions feared hasn‘t happened.

Unionization slipped from one in nine Hoosier workers in 2011 to one out of 11 in 2012, when right-to-work took effect. But union membership had been sliding for years before that, and in the first full year of right-to-work, membership actually rebounded by two-tenths of a percent.

During debate over the law, unions predicted their membership would decline while the number of “free riders” — workers enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining without paying dues — would rise.

Indiana AFLCIO president Brett Voorhies credits unions’ efforts to serve their members with averting those outcomes.

“In certain areas maybe right-to-work has affected some of our facilities but definitely not in a way that was predicted,” says Voorhies.

The US Department of Labor says about 10-percent of Hoosier workers represented by unions are nonmembers. That‘s the highest figure in three years.

The department says Indiana unions added about 3,000 members in 2013, and the same number of nonmembers working in union shops.

Voorhies says the organization hasn‘t changed its view that the law was a bad one.

On Wednesday, a Lake County judge became the second to rule the law unconstitutional. The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in September.
Likewise, here in Wisconsin, when Scott Walker and his Teapublican cronies dropped their Act 10 bomb on the state, it was meant to bust our unions. Again, things didn't happen quite the way they planned:
In 2012, Wisconsin had the third largest decrease in union membership.  In 2013, Wisconsin baffled many of the "experts" by having the seventh largest increase in membership:
There was a surprise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report Friday on union membership: Trade unions appear to have gained ground in Wisconsin last year.

Wisconsin’s union membership rate -- the percentage of wage and salary workers who belong to unions -- rose from 11.25 percent to 12.34 percent, the seventh biggest gain in the nation. This after 2012, when Wisconsin had the third largest decrease in the nation.
But as the gentle reader knows, when it comes to all things Walker, there is more. There is always more:
The report shows Wisconsin had an increase of about 24,000 union members in 2013, while the overall number of wage and salaried workers dipped by about 36,000.
So while Walker's agenda was costing the state tens of thousands of jobs, those managing to hang on to their jobs or get new ones were even more eager to join or rejoin the unions. 

This was also exemplified when most unions were able to recertify at the end of last year despite they way Walker tried to manipulate the voting by putting insane obstacles in the way.

I've got to hand it to Walker.  That is some mighty impressive union organizing.
Now that the highly politicized Supreme Court upheld Act 10, despite all legal and common sense, there has been talk about the unions being done. Furthermore, the fact is regardless of November's gubernatorial election results, the Teapublicans will try to push through Right to Work here.

But as they have been proven wrong so many times before, they are in for a big surprise.

It really is hard to keep a good union down.

Speaking of Right to Work, keep the evening of September 3 open. The Milwaukee Area Labor Council will be holding a town hall meeting, open to the public, to discuss that very topic.

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