“Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 14


Workers Earning Federal Minimum Wage or Less

The “right-to-work” states are indicated in red, and the pro-labor states in white:

US Map 1

Compare that map with the following map:

Minimum-Wage Workers


Previous posts in this series have included:

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 1: Population Growth and Movement: http://academeblog.org/2013/04/03/2666/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 2: Immigration: http://academeblog.org/2013/04/21/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-2/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 3: Unemployment Rates, by State: http://academeblog.org/2013/04/30/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-3/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 4: Historic Highs and Lows in Unemployment, by State: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/05/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-4/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 5: Employment in Manufacturing: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/10/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-5/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 6: Loss of Employment in Manufacturing, before and during the Great Recession: http://academeblog.org/2013/07/21/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-6/.

Right to Work by the Numbers, Part 7: GDP by State and GDP per Capita by State: http://academeblog.org/2013/12/16/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-gdp-by-state-and-gdp-per-capita-by-state/.

Right to Work by the…

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Robert Reich on “Right to Work”

“Right to Work” Ruled Unconstitutional in Wisconsin


In ruling on a lawsuit brought by three labor unions, Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust has ruled that Wisconsin’s “right to work” statute is unconstitutional because it “amounts to an unconstitutional governmental taking of union funds without compensation since under the law unions must represent people who don’t pay dues” and “that presents an existential threat to unions”: “’While [union] losses today could be characterized by some as minor, they are not isolated and the impact of [the law] over time is threatening to the unions’ very economic viability.’”

Although Foust’s ruling is very likely to be overturned on appeal, Foust himself “noted that no other state court had struck down a right-to-work law on those grounds, but said he wasn’t obligated to follow other states.”

A news report on the ruling, written for TPM by Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond, is available at: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/scott-walker-right-to-work-law-unconstitutional?utm.

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Friedrichs Deadlock Announced


Today the Supreme Court announced the expected impasse on Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association:

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it was unable to resolve a major challenge to organized labor, and the result was a defeat for a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.

“The court said it was split 4 to 4 on the issue, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. It was the most important case yet in which the eight-member court was unable to reach a decision.

“At oral argument, the court’s conservatives appeared ready to junk a decades-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.

“It is the most important Supreme Court case of the year for unions and one of a…

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More Taint on the Ivory Tower


What follows is a petition posted to Change-org by Seth Alterman, asking for public support for a petition protesting the elimination of the campus police force at Dean College, which is located outside of Boston. The officers had just chosen to unionize when the college suddenly announced that it was outsourcing campus security services.

This situation may seem a small thing to focus on this blog. It involves fewer than a dozen and a half employees at a small college. But this situation is indicative of the relentless privatization and corporatization of our institutions, and whenever we ignore any situation of this kind, we are acquiescing incrementally to a trend that will ultimately—and very likely sooner rather than later—overwhelm us all.

It is extremely ironic that even as administrative bloat is reaching obscene dimensions, more and more lower-paying service jobs within our institutions are being outsourced—maintenance and custodial services, dining…

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A Ruling In Favor of Friedrichs Will Hurt Education


This unsigned opinion piece was published through the Institute for America’s Future of the Campaign for America’s Future [http://ourfuture.org/], which has become a driving force behind the New Populist Movement.

The group’s report, Organizing to Take Back America: The New Populist Movement, is available at: http://y.ourfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/New-Populist-Movement-Organizing.pdf. Prepared by Roger Hickey, the co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, the report identifies twelve key principles underlying this new progressive effort to provide an effective grassroots alternative to the Tea Party movement on the Far Right.

The post is reprinted with the permission of Roger Hickey.


Earlier this month, news about a US Supreme Court case Friedrichs v California Teachers Association raised concerns for progressives everywhere – and for good reason. As my colleague Dave Johnson writes, the case is about “making every state a ‘right-to-work’ state, and suppressing unions and wages.” So this case is another…

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A 2016 New Year’s Message from China’s Labor Community


Dear Fellow Workers, Compatriots, and Friends from around the World:

Happy New Year!

Toward the end of 2015, the labor community in China experienced an unprecedented attack. A group of activists who have dedicated years to defending the rights and interests of workers were detained, monitored and interrogated by the police. It could have been a moment for fear and paranoia to set in. But those in the labor community and other walks of life responded quickly by drafting a petition to the Communist Party Central Committee, National People’s Congress, and State Council. The petition described in no uncertain terms the severe and widespread violations of workers’ rights and interests over the last few decades, and the inevitable emergence of independent labor NGOs and worker centers and their valuable contribution to the protection of labor rights and social justice, and demanded the release of the detained activists. In less than…

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Literally, a Singular Illustration of the Corporate Media’s Disregard, if Not Disdain, for American Labor


The following item was written by Peter Dreier for the blog Talking Union:

“Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation’s finest journalists and perhaps the only self-proclaimed socialist to write a weekly column for a major American newspaper during the past decade or two.

“At a time when America is experiencing an upsurge of progressive organizing and activism—from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the growing movement among low-wage workers demanding higher minimum wages, to Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president—we need a regular columnist who can explain what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what it means.

“More than any other columnist for a major U.S. newspaper, Meyerson provided ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation’s labor movement and other progressive causes as well as the changing economy and the increasing aggressiveness of big business…

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Updates on the Detention of Chinese Labor Activists


I recently re-posted a piece by Paul Garver on the detention of labor activists in China. Paul edits the Talking Union blog of the Democratic Socialists of America, and I included the re-post of his piece in a somewhat broader article on labor activism in China: http://academeblog.org/2015/12/10/supporting-the-emerging-chinese-labor-movement-on-international-human-rights-day/.

That post was then re-posted on the Facebook page of the Red Balloon Solidarity Group: https://www.facebook.com/redballoonsolidarity.

Although that page is largely in Chinese, another site called libcom.org has provided an English-language summary of the updates on the Red Ballon site from December 9 through December 16: http://libcom.org/news/updates-guangdong-seven-december-16.

If you wish to show support for the labor activists who have been detained by the Chinese government, you can sign a petition for college and university faculty available at:http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/scholars-opposing-the-abuse-of-state-power.

The petition has already been signed by faculty from a very broad range of colleges and universities worldwide.

Here is the…

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“Right to Work” by the Numbers: Part 12: Unemployment Rates in Mid-December 2015


The “right-to-work” states are indicated in red, and the pro-labor states in white:

US Map 1

Compare that map with this map indicating the state unemployment rates reported on December 18, 2015:

Unemployement 2015-12-18

In the Ohio House, legislation has been introduced to impose “right-to-work” restrictions on private-sector unions, with the primary argument for the measure being the now very tired assertion that pro-labor states cannot compete economically with “right-to-work” states—that pro-labor states are at a decided disadvantage in attracting job-creating companies.

A comparison of these two maps provides no support for those claims.

Such a comparison also does not support the assertion that Ohio cannot compete with adjacent states that have recently passed “right-to-work” legislation: Indiana and Wisconsin are doing only very marginally better in terms of employment and Michigan is doing worse.

Moreover, look at the job-creation statistics that have just been reported:

Table D.  States with statistically significant employment changes from November 2014…

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