Imagine living inside a factory with tiny dormitories that fit six or more, forced to return to the assembly line at any moment to fill an order. Shifts can last more than 12 hours, with two breaks that last an hour each. And the pay isn’t all that much – $2 an hour. If you’re lucky, you’ll make $17 a month. Monotonously, you assemble thousands of iPads and televisions.
The New York Times_ raised a lot of Americans’ ire when it ran its iEconomy
series that described the horrid conditions of Foxconn Technology’s factories in China. Foxconn Technology, a supplier for many companies, assembles products for Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Vizio, etc.
Thousands started to protest Apple’s products. They were shocked at the story, and maddened fellow workers weren’t treated equally or even fairly. Shortly afterward, Apple hired the Fair Labor Association to audit the facilities of its suppliers. Foxconn Technology announced it would raise its workers’ salaries by as much as 25 percent.
Last week I opined on different policies, and advised that Gov. Rick Snyder look to the international community for inspiration. Germany was the perfect economic model, in my opinion; its economy thrives with strong unions, and it hasn’t had to resort to third-world wages to retain its manufacturing sector.
Unfortunately, Republicans in the state legislature have been much more
interested in China and the iEconomy of Foxconn Technology to ever consider another muse.
“Unions lashed out Tuesday against a package of bills they say is the latest volley in a war against labor by Republican lawmakers,” read a report by The Detroit News published Feb. 1. “Legislation passed by a House committee in a room packed with labor supporters would require employees to provide annual written permission to their employers to have union dues deducted from their paychecks.”
Ray Holman, a legislative liaison for the UAW Local 6000, said, “It’s a skirmish before the giant battle, which is right-to-work.”
“In this economic climate, something called right-to-work legislation sounds positive, but the name is misleading: these laws do not guarantee a job for anyone,” reads a report by the Economic Policy Institute published in February 2009, “In fact, they make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to negotiate a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefits of the contract terms to pay his or her share of costs for negotiating and policing the contract.”
It is bad policy. The laws are meritless. They don’t even deliver on the promise of economic salvation. In the report by the Economic Policy Institute, it shows, as of 2011, seven of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates are states with right-to-work laws.
The Economic Policy Institute also conducted a separate study of the effects of right-to-work laws for New Hampshire that was published Feb. 7: “EPI’s 2011 report, Right to Work: Wrong for New Hampshire, noted that in states that have adopted RTW, annual wages and benefits are about $1,500 lower than comparable workers in non-RTW states – for both union and nonunion workers – and the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job are also lower.”
The newer report reaffirms what was discovered before in 2011. It also comments on the ‘miracle’ of Texas, which implemented right-to-work laws in the 1990s, and has since seen impressive job growth. In its Rich States, Poor States report, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) commented on the miracle of Texas, where right-to-work laws were heralded as the economic savior of the state’s economy. Texas has added more jobs in the past decade than any other state; the council declared it “the state with the best policy to emulate.”
“What ALEC didn’t tell readers is that, for the last four years, the state’s job growth has come entirely through government jobs, while the private sector shrank – clearly a trend that cannot be credited to RTW,” responded the Economic Policy Institute.
Michigan is the last stalwart of worker’s unions in the Rust Belt, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 671,000 workers are union members, otherwise 17.5 percent of the state’s workforce. We should stay a stalwart for workers and protect their rights.