We are here today to talk to you about the WAR ON WORKERS. No other time in the history of this country, or in the history of this state have we seen such coordinated attacks on working families designed to lower wages, roll back safety provisions and silence the our voices in the workplace and in government. We often hear the phrase “The Rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer” and today in Indiana and across this nation, sadly that is true. So today we want to spend a few minutes exposing that anti-worker agenda and talk about what we can all do to stop it.
This slide is a powerful illustration of the growing wage gap in America. Let’s take a look at what’s happened to household income overall. . . The 1940-70s were union growth years … wages grew steadily and balanced…all wage sectors made real gains [CLICK] Mid 70s to date total stagnation with the exception of the highest earners The middle class and lowest wage sector have really taken a hit [Click] [Click] This time when our bar graph goes off the page, it’s for a VERY different reason: those at the very, very top has seen their incomes rise astronomically. This massive shift in income … you have to wonder if its by accident or design? Weakening of unions and plummeting incomes … accident or design?
And, let’s also take a look at productivity. Where at one time our wages were keeping up with gains in productivity, we’re now seeing huge gaps – starting in the 1970s. But, from the last slide, we know that wealth that’s being created is going somewhere. . .just not to us. Again, it leads you to wonder if this is by accident or design. But it’s clearly by design. It’s a well funded, long term strategy to undermine the voice of working people.
So who’s behind this? As we said at the beginning, this is a well funded, strategic, long term plan by corporate America. Here are some of the leading culprits and their mouthpieces
And here is the agenda they are pushing. Right to work state and national legislation designed to cripple unions Restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees, educators and pensions – many of which we have already seen in Indiana So-called “ Reforms” in education designed to destroy our public education system and turn it into a for-profit venture. Bans, restrictions or reductions to Project Labor Agreements and Common Construction Wages Financial, environmental, trade deregulation Attacks on the National Labor Relations Board Eliminating Medicare And of course they are pushing divisive social issues designed to distract and divide us.
And don’t let them tell you that this agenda is unique to Indiana – or that it is homegrown. It’s not. The same radical legislation that we are fighting in Indiana was introduced in 45 other states as well. This is truly an all out attack on workers taking place in state legislatures across America.
In Indiana in 2011 we were ground zero in this national fight. We didn’t get the media attention that other states got, but we faced down the largest onslaught of bills of any state. For 36 straight days more than 75,000 Hoosiers came to the statehouse to protest. It was the largest and longest sustained protest in our state’s history – and along with the close to a million emails, phone calls and other types of communication we let our state legislators know our views on these bills. You see, the corporations thought they could take Indiana down quickly – and we wouldn’t fight back. The figured as a state at the heart of the industrial heartland, it would be like a domino effect – Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc. etc, would fall. But we stood up and got some wins – and in the process helped to stop this tidal wave across the country. Thanks to the House Democrats legislative “time out” in Illinois we were able to: Stop all “Right to Work” bills from advancing Beat back attempts to prohibit dues check-off Prevented the criminalization of strikes, and state employees participating in union activities – a law that would have stripped state employees of their pensions if they even talked about joining a union. Stopped full scale School deregulation Prevented “Emergency Manager” bill for local government. Under this law, the state could come in and take over the control of a city and remove the elected leadership – much like what is happening in Michigan today. Fought off all out ban on PLAs Improved Drug Testing for UI Benefits to render disqualification rare. Originally this failed to include any standards for testing or analysis. A prospective employer could have ordered an employee to unclothe and take the test right in front of him. And he could have done his own analysis. We made sure that tests were to be taken and analyzed only by accredited labs, that positive tests be confirmed by a more rigorous analysis and that medical prescriptions or history be taken into account.
We also sustained some losses – which was to be expected with a Republican Governor and huge majorities in both houses of legislature. They passed a public school voucher bill that will drain money away from the public schools – although we were able to put limits on the number of vouchers. They expanded the number of charter schools, They also instituted new teacher evaluations standards which are based on testing and nothing else and now the state superintendent has the authority to take over schools as he deems necessary – taking the local control away from parents. They permanently banned collective bargaining for public employees, and changed state personnel laws to make it harder for state employees to keep jobs. They weakened the common construction wage – which is like the minimum wage for construction workers And early on they cut unemployment benefits by 25% while giving corporations a 25% tax break – Indiana now has one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation.
So you can see they accomplished much of what they wanted in 2011 – but not everything. What’s in store for the next round? The big ticket item still left is passing a Right to Work bill – and that’s what we want to talk about next. First of all – what is Right to Work. It sounds good – great name – but what does it really do? “ Right to work” laws prevents employers and employees from negotiating a type of agreement (a union security clause) that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them. These laws require unions to represent every eligible employee, whether or not he or she pays dues. In other words, “right to work” laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership, collective bargaining and contract enforcement. In so doing, they force good union members to pay for those who won’t pay their own way.
Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine you retired, bought a beautiful condo. Gardeners take care of the lawn. You don't own a mower. The pool is pristine. You have a nice life and in exchange, you pay some dues to the condo association for taking care of your needs. Now imagine that &quot;Joe&quot; wants to buy a condo. But, he tells you he does not want to join your silly condo association. Well, you reply, &quot;You can buy a home wherever you like, but if you are going to live here, you have to pay your fair share. We don't want Free Loaders!“ We all understand that, and we would not make condo associations illegal. In fact, state law protects them. If people don't pay their dues, Indiana law allows the association to put a lien on the property. Unions work the same way. They negotiate wages, hours, and benefits for all people who work for an employer. By long established federal law, unions cannot exclude non-union employees from the benefits of the contract. Therefore, unions sometimes negotiate with employers to require that every employee be asked to pay a fair share of the negotiation and representation costs. Right To Work (RTW) prohibits that. Right to Freeload might be a more appropriate name. Union employers choose to form a contract to protect unions from Freeloaders and collect those dues. RTW makes such contracts illegal.
In Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is leading the push for “Right to Work” legislation – and last year they came out with a study that said, among other things: “ States with RTW laws have experienced above average economic growth, while states without such laws have seen below average growth. They want you to believe that passing a RTW law will be the silver bullet for the economy. It will fix everything that is wrong with Indiana. It will create jobs. Lower Taxes. Open the flood gates to new businesses. Isn’t that the exact same thing they said about Daylight savings? We won’t be fooled again by false promises. Let’s look at the real numbers.
Here is a comparison chart of Per Capita Personal Income. The states in Red are RTW states – and blue are non-RTW states. If this law had the amazing economic impact proponents say it would, you’d think you’d see a lot more red on the far end of the screen.
The US Bureau of Economic Analysis also recently found that the average wage in a right-to-work state was about $37,200 last year, while the average wage in a state without a right-to-work law was $42,300, a difference of 14 percent. And if also found that states without right-to-work laws have higher gross domestic products. The average in the 22 right-to-work states was $220.4 billion, while the average in states without such a law was $287.7 billion, about 30 percent higher. But if numbers aren’t your thing – let’s look to the last state to adopt RTW – Oklahoma.
RTW laws are primarily in rural or Southern states and one wasn’t passed for nearly 30 years until Oklahoma became the 22 nd state to pass the law in 2001. Oklahoma adopted the legislation with the promise of job creation, increased wages and so on an so forth. It’s the same sales pitch Hoosiers hear today. But here’s what happened…
Since RTW was adopted, over 100 Oklahoma firms have closed their doors due to low-wage competition abroad. After all the promises of job growth and business relocation, as this chart shows Oklahoma has actually lost jobs since RTW was enacted – further proof the RTW doesn’t do what some claim it will do.
In fact according to a recent survey of states economic development climates for high-tech companies, 9 out of the 10 most attractive states were non-RTW states. So this isn’t about economic competitiveness, or fairness or a person’s “right” to work – it’s about power and profit
Despite what they tell you about increased wages and all brings jobs passing RTW would bring into the state – but they have never been able to back up their claims with any real proof. And it’s because RTW is a false promise. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said “Right to work brings no rights and no works.” The bottom line is this: - RTW lowers wages for all workers – across the board, union and non-union alike. It will lead to fewer benefits for workers Safety standards are weaken considerably – you are 50% more likely to die on the job in a RTW state Millions of dollars are drained out of local economies because workers have less disposal income to spend at local stores and shops And, most notably because RTW weakens unions ability to operate and to be effective voices for workers, it takes away worker’s ability to speak up at work or in election cycles. RTW is leads to a race to the bottom. By lowering wages and taking away workers ability to change their working conditions or political climate, the corporations will have total control. There will be no one to stand up to them. So it’s critical that as working men and women we stand up to this radical anti-worker agenda.
To do that we must take action. Our challenge today as a labor movement and as a people is to: Get Active – we must get our membership and all working people fired up and get them involved in this fight. This is an all hands on deck moment. We must do phone banks, walks, leafleting, membership education and community outreach. Get Attention – we must get media attention and get our message out to the community as a whole. We are in this together. When we lose wages, the community will suffer too. There are no neutral parties in this fight. Get Even – There are elections coming up and now more than ever our membership must get registered to vote and they must turn out and vote for those that support us. We must exercise this fundamental right before it is taken away from us too. Brothers and sisters, this is a do or die moment not only for organized labor for the America we know today. If we don’t stand up now, we will be eliminated by the forces of corporate greed. There will be no more middle class. It will be the super wealthy and the workers. That’s it. No in between. So everyone in this room who cares about this state, this country and wants to pass along the American Dream to another generation of Hoosiers has skin in this game. There are no more sidelines to sit on. The war has come to your front door.
I ask you to join us in this fight. Go to www.inaflcio.org and sign up for our email list – and spread the word. This will be your best line of communication with us about what is happening at the Indiana Statehouse. We will send out notices and calls to action for you to contact your state legislators, and for you to come to the Statehouse. We try not to ask too often, but when we do – we need you to answer that call and get others to answer it too. We need everyone involved and ready for action today, tomorrow and every day moving forward. If we can do that, we can fend of these attacks again and continue the fight for America’s future. Thank you for your time and consideration.
WAR ON WORKERS Indiana 2011
Off the charts! 758% income rise $35 million mean income 26% 49% 9% 11% 14% 495% income rise $7 million mean income Top 0.1% Top 0.01% Percent Increase in Mean Household Income Source: Economic Policy Institute Bottom 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Top 20% Growing Wage Gap IN America 116% 97% 98% 103% 85% 1973-2007 1947-1973
1947 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2004 Productivity Wages Unionization Rate 1947: 32% Unionization Rate 2004: 7.9% Working harder for less
EDUCATION: Public School Vouchers (limited); Expanded the number of charter schools new restrictions for teachers and school employees; Teacher Evaluations; “ Special Management Teams” for public schools
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: Collective Bargaining ban; Changed State Personnel laws to render most workers “at will,” politically dependent jobs
CONSTRUCTION: Weakened Common Construction Wage Act
OTHER: 25% cut to unemployment benefits/ tax break to business; Passed law banning local Living Wage Ordinances; “Save Our Secret Ballot” passed
The average wage in a right-to-work state was about $37,200 last year, while the average wage in a state without a right-to-work law was $42,300, a difference of 14 percent.
States without right-to-work laws have higher gross domestic products. The average in the 22 right-to-work states was $220.4 billion, while the average in states without such a law was $287.7 billion, about 30 percent higher.