By Chris Saxman
I wanted to take a moment to discuss an important issue that arose several times during the 2008 General Assembly session and will be addressed in the presidential race this year.
During the General Assembly session, the Governor and Democrats in the House of Delegates and the Senate were behind disturbing efforts to undermine Virginia's right-to-work law, a basic tenet of the Commonwealth’s business friendly environment. Though the measures failed in the House of Delegates, one would have allowed collective bargaining for public employees, while the other attempted to begin an irreversible trend towards compulsory organizing of employees.
Meanwhile, national Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stumped in economically depressed states like Ohio demonizing free trade and extolling the virtues of mandatory unionism despite its devastating results on those very states.
Virginia has been rated the "Best State for Business" by Forbes Magazine for the last two years. Our state government routinely wins accolades, including "Best Managed State." A major factor behind these achievements is Virginia's right-to-work law. Businesses come to Virginia and other right-to-work states because they can do business without fear of striking unions jeopardizing their operations. Workers in right-to-work states are rewarded for their productivity and enjoy freedom and choice in the workplace without the fear they will be forced to join a union or participate in a strike. Not to mention the devastating fiscal impact on governments!
States that have right-to-work laws are quickly passing states without such laws when examining a variety of economic indicators including economic growth rates, per capita income, and manufacturing.
As noted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a recent study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy compared the economies of Alabama, a right-to-work state, and Michigan, a state long dominated by union bosses. While automakers have dramatically reduced jobs in Michigan, the number of auto manufacturing jobs has tripled in Alabama. Between 2001 and 2006, Alabama has increased its workforce by 4 percent. Michigan's job losses were nearly 5 percent of its total workforce over that period. Per capita income in right-to-work states including Virginia, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming and Texas is rapidly increasing and disposable income levels are higher than in states plagued by compulsory unionization.
Ohioans bemoan jobs losses and politicians blame free trade while advocating more unionism as a solution to a problem. In reality, forced unionism is a contributing factor to Ohio's economic troubles in the first place. Many foreign-owned companies, recognizing the plight of US automakers and industries in unionized states, are downright hostile, and for good reason, to locating operations in a state unless it has a right-to-work law.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “nearly 1,000 new plants have been built in Texas since 2005, from the likes of Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu. Foreign-owned companies supplied the state with 345,000 jobs.” Right-to-work states like Texas had far higher rates of job growth than Ohio between 1995 and 2005. The WSJ summed the situation up well, stating: “No wonder Texans don’t fear global competition the way some Presidential candidates do.”
Given these facts, it is hard to understand why Virginia Democrats are so intent on undermining Virginia's right-to-work law. When you consider the large amount of support, financial and physical, that Democrats take from labor unions, it becomes much easier to understand how the disastrous results of force unionization can be so easily ignored. If Virginia's economy is to remain vibrant and diversified, and if Virginia is to remain a best managed state with a business friendly environment, the right-to-work law must remain intact.
This issue comes down a choice between economic growth and economic stagnation, and is essential to our understanding of freedom in the United States. I am fully committed to protecting Virginia’s right-to-work law and ensuring Virginia remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and operate a business.
Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com