This response has been distributed to papers from Maine to Iowa.
James Sherk of the Heritage Foundations editorial:
Editorial response to: Right-to-work is right for America by; James Sherk,l Heritage Foundation, Jan.2012
By: Albert Abbasse
The Holland Sentinel News dated January 11, 2012, included an article by James Sherk, published through the Heritage Foundation. My research revealed that this same article appeared in several northern regional papers within a span of three days, including newspapers such as the Pittsburg (PA) Tribune, the Youngstown News, Maine Today, and my personal favorite, “The Gulf Today”. The Gulf Today is printed in English in the United Arab Emirates, which made me wonder why a wealthy Arab nation would even care about the Right to Work issue in the USA? Upon further investigation, I discovered that James Sherk is employed by the Heritage Foundation of Washington DC and that his articles are distributed by the McClatchy-Tribune Informational Service, a global distributor of various news reporting and publishing services for the Heritage Foundation.
To my personal dismay, this same article had made its way throughout many Midwest TV stations, newspapers and other publications, appearing as a full battle dress effort to support Indiana House Bill 1028. During my research review however, I noticed only one name on the first three pages of the search files, that being, James Sherk. He apparently now is the voice for the Heritage Foundation’s position supporting Right to Work Legislation in all 50 states.
A quick history of the issue of Right to Work goes back to 1965 when a major legislative issue before the 89th Congress was the repeal of section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act. Section 14b simply allows states to determine for themselves if they will be a “Right to Work” state or not. In its most simplistic of form, the very depth of the issue is voluntary v. compulsory unionism (or as commonly termed; Open v. Closed Shop). There are many sides to every (any) position. However, one thing that is very conspicuous in our form of American Government is; the power of “checks and balances”. Corporations have Boards of Director, CEOs, Presidents, and Managers etc., all in positions to make sure everyone is performing their assigned duties. They even have Independent auditors review their operations to assure that everyone is performing their duties in accordance with the; Rules or those “checks and balances”.
Then, there are legions of workers that have united across this great nation to assure that all employees are afforded; “due process”( another hallmark of American Governance) in the workplace so that inappropriate actions such as arbitrary terminations, unequal pay between men and women and dangerous work environments in the workplace do not occur.
However, there are business operations that simply do not have unions or audits. They all work just fine for the most part because of something called competition in the workplace. The unionized workshop fairly negotiates community standard living wages, healthcare, safe work environments, and due process clauses that allow workers to directly interact with management to resolve issues that impact quality and output.
That is what “Stakeholders” should do, and the workers within the commercial enterprise are the biggest stakeholder. A commercial enterprise is only as stable as the workforce that helps that enterprise be successful. Commercial businessmen in non-union stakeholder facilities understand that to compete for qualified labor; they must meet the ongoing competition by offering competitive working wages, fringe benefits and working conditions.
Union stakeholders negotiate based upon what the financial health of the commercial enterprise allows. They do not ask nor negotiate contracts outside of that which the operation has in disposable income as that would not be in their best interests either. Wage negations for example run from 1 to 3.5% of wages over the course of a contract. The union stakeholder works to make the commercial enterprise as successful as possible as their very livelihood is what is at stake; the workers truly are the major stakeholders of any operation. They provide a check and balance against the operation to ensure that profits, improvements and growth are maintained.
US Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis stated:
“The union attains success when it reaches the ideal condition, and the ideal condition for a union is to be strong and stable and yet to have in the trade outside its own ranks an appreciable number of men who are non unionist. Such a nucleus of unorganized labor will check oppression by the union as the union checks the oppression by the employer.”
Union membership is simply the right of workers to band together to protect the basic rights of hours to work, equal pay, fair health care (a healthy worker does not miss work time), due process in the work place, and most importantly, it allows the workers a voice as the largest of stakeholders within the operation.
The last and most important item of so-called Right to Work laws is the overturning of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. This act is the flagship of worker equality; it established the Federal Minimum Wage, employment of minors, interstate regulations, workplace discrimination, age discrimination, exposure of workers to toxins, and of course, all worker safety activities. Are you sure, that you, as a stakeholder may trust your employer to continue to provide this level of protection? without any oversight of what and how it operates? the very enterprise that you are the major stakeholder, that they will hold ‘best work practices’ as a priority?
Mr. Sherk spent 15 paragraphs attempting to sell Americans a false bill of goods. When we view the laws of the 22 Right to Work states in comparison with the 28 states that operate under the 1938 “Fair Labor Act”, we see vast differences. One is that the average worker in a Right-to-work state earns approximately $5,300.00 less. Those same states also have a rate of workplace deaths which is 51% higher, compared to states where unions may advocate on behalf of workers.
One other point that Mr. Sherk should understand; union dues are not paid to union officials” or bosses. Union dues are paid to fund the union organization. Union officials “are democratically ELECTED” by the employees to represent them; each member votes for his or her choice of leaders just as we democratically elect Representatives and Senators.
Mr. Sherk denounces the ability for workers to negotiate working contracts, but apparently approves allowing an outside agency representing potential or current CEO’s negotiate wages, bonuses, health care, vacation time without any worker input. He apparently advocates that CEOs, CFOs and Board of Directors may vote themselves salaries and benefits which are upwards of 20 to 50 times what the median worker earn.
A 2006 Gallop Poll asked the following questions:
Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions? 58% of Respondents “Approved” of Unions.
Only 19% of respondents were union members.
Do you think labor unions mostly help or mostly hurt “The US economy in general”.
54% of respondents opined that “Unions” help.
My last response is this; Supporters claim ‘right to work’ laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled—federal law already does this, as well as protecting non-members from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a charlatan charade. Union members MUST sign annually what is called a “check-off card” if they chose to contribute to a Political PAC and how those funds are provided with name, address, phone number and employer. Corporations do not, they only need write the check, period.
When the first statement to you is an untruth, you are unlikely to find legitimacy in the rest of their statements. The article I respond to demonstrates the reality of that proposition.
The results of carbon-dating of a sample taken from the paved terrace of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon have been returned to the “Archeological Park of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun” Foundation. The age of the sample has been determined to be 10,350 years (+/- 50 years). This means that the Bosnian Pyramids are significantly older than the officially pronounced age of the Egyptian pyramids (4,500 years), as well as those of China, Peru, or Mexico (estimated as roughly 2,000-3,000 years old).
The Foundation began work on the western, triangular side of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon at Visoko (about 20 miles north of Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina) in July 2006. The height of this pyramid is 190 meters, making it taller than the Cheops Pyramid of 147 meters. At a point roughly halfway to the top of this pyramid a paved terrace was discovered which consisted of carefully trimmed paving of sandstone. This material has been used throughout many generations as a natural building and architectural material and there is an abundance of it in the region. These sandstone paving stones had been smoothed on all six sides, and they had been carefully placed along the external surface of the pyramid. Between them there is a binding cement-like material.
During the season of 2010, under the supervision of archeologists and geologists, volunteers expanded this location known as the “archeological trench No. 20”. Even before this, Professor Muhamed Pašić of the Institute of Materials at the University of Zenica had established that the upper layer of the sandstone blocks had been cemented to its base. Between the two layers there was discovered a brown material which had most probably found its way there on the wind during the time of the construction of the paved terrace. Its color was indicative of what might possibly be organic material.
The Italian archeologist, Ricardo Bret, using standard archeological methods, took samples in September 2010. These samples were sent to the Institute of Physics of Silesian University of Technology at Gliwice in Poland. The head of the Radiocarbon Laboratory there, physics professor Anna Pazdur, supervised the analysis which was carried out and which established that one of the two samples taken was, indeed, made of organic material. Using the C14 radio-carbon dating method, within several weeks the results were sent to the Foundation in Sarajevo. Their findings were that this sample was of an age of 10,350 years (+/- 50 years).
This means that the process of the cementing of the upper layer onto the base layer was carried out at that time. We can therefore conclude from this that the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon was made nearly ten and a half thousand years ago! This makes it considerably older than the cultures of Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt or ancient India. This is the latest confirmation of extremely interesting data in connection with the age of the Bosnian Pyramids.
News Release: With Questionnaire Post-Word.
July 14, 2008
Abbasse Position on Right to Work Laws
Right-wing swing groups have been proposing ‘right to work’ laws and have even introduced them in the Michigan House HB5771 & 5772 (06). I believe the Michigan Legislature would be the appropriate test location as a pilot program for this supposed economic stimulus theory.
The Citizens of the great State of Michigan should consider using “Right to Work” standards or applying those standards in payment to legislators. Such as a maximum of $14.00 per hour @ 40 hours per week, salary and they work however many hours it takes to get the job done.
Maybe they should be responsible for their own expenses such as petroleum, lodging, and food. Of course, health care programs or pension programs would not be available since they cannot have bargaining rights and benefits are solely at the employer’s discretion ( which happen to be the citizens of the State of Michigan) so a vote would be required by the population to approve or disapprove of any benefits to be offered.
Basic expense allotment could be made for those that live outside a radius of 50 miles from the Capitol if the voters of those district so approve and allot the expenditure, again by vote of the people to authorize the additional expenditure of tax revenue that they of course pay.
Possibly voters might include 1 trip home per week, Rooming expense at $100.00 per week and 3 meals served at the local County Jail while the House and Senate are in session. I raise this point as a matter of conservation. If we already are having, state funds pay for meals to be served to inmates, why not save tax payer revenues and allow those elected the same food they authorize for the prison system. I have some ideas how this could work. Each principle falls directly in line with what “Right to Work” has to “offer” Michigan Workers.
As I started to write this in jest, I find myself in curious wonderment of how many would run for office if this were the case. Would citizen serve their state because it is the duty of every citizen to serve the Constitution or would citizens refuse or would citizens support?
If this is the Right-wings solution to strengthen Michigan’s economy, then it should be a top-down program, which proves the program is worth a more detailed investigation.
Read more at http://www.abbasse.org
Al was invited to respond to the Michigan Right to Work Committee Questionnaire a few years ago, these were his responses then and they have not changed for 2008 as the questions did not change.
Right to Work Questionnaire Response
Michigan Right to Work Committee
Michigan 2006 Candidacy Survey
Al’s Responses are in RED
A state Right to Work law provides that no worker can be denied a job because he or she either joins or does not join a union. Such a law guarantees that each individual worker can freely choose whether or not to support a union.
Will you support enactment of a State Right to Work law by the Michigan State Legislature?
The State of Michigan has granted public sector union officials the monopoly power to bargain for every person employed within a work unit—including those individuals who do not desire union representation. Monopoly bargaining usurps employees’ rights to bargain on their own behalf and inevitably leads to poorer service at higher costs. For these reasons Right to Work supporters oppose any imposition of monopoly bargaining over public employees by union officials.
Will you support legislation that ends monopoly bargaining over public employees by union officials?
Response: 2a) Your statement of, “The State of Michigan has granted public sector…” is incorrect and false. Those employees’ of the state have agreed to allow THEIR Elected leadership to negotiate fair and just labor contracts for them. Furthermore, the bargaining that takes place between union represented employees’ is no different than contracts negotiated by Labor contractors, Pharmaceutical Companies, Food Distributors or any number of independent groups that contract with the State of Michigan.
Response: 2b) I am curious. As an Economist, when I make presentations or answer questions, I am required to uphold and support my positions with data. Please share with me and anyone that reads this questionnaire what the number of state employees’ is that do not want or support their representation? My reason for asking is that, in order for Union recognition, a majority of the employees had to agree to representation. That being said, what is the difference if 51% of the employees want union representation or 51% of representatives in the Michigan Legislature vote to raise taxes? If the employees’ do not desire or want representation, they will vote to end said representation. I feel they have sufficient control of their own needs and desires and deserve the same equal treatment as any other contractor.
In the public sector, “agency shop” clauses in so-called collective bargaining agreements compel public employees who choose to join a union to pay up tot 100% of union dues. The employees are forces to pay or be fired even if they do not want union representation.
Will you support legislation terminating forced dues privileges for public sector union officials?
Response: You refer to “so-called collective bargaining…” Bargaining for employees that have CHOSEN representation, is not “so-called”. It is real and is for the benefit of hard working Michigan Citizens that also are hard working employees of this state. Union membership dues are no different than the dues paid by commercial enterprises that belong to group associations that provide lobbying efforts on behalf of commercial enterprise for preferred legislation that benefits their industry or their enterprise only. The “association” of like minds is working to benefit themselves for their own benefit. The employees are performing a service for the citizens of Michigan and only wish parity and a fair standard of living for services provide.
Some states penalize employers who hire permanent replacement workers during an economic strike. Also, any worker who crosses a picket line could be subject to the loss of his or her job at the end of the strike. This situation forces workers to support any strike called by the union hierarchy.
Will you support legislation ensuring employers can hire permanent replacement workers during economic strikes?
Response: Again you have made a misleading statement. Union Hierarchy CANNOT call a strike and force workers to strike. The employees’ must vote to APPROVE any strike action by a full majority of the employee membership. Union Hierarchy must enforce the actions as required by its membership. If the Employee Membership instructs its leadership to pursue a strike action, then they are obligated to follow the employees direction.
Currently in Michigan, state law authorizes the use of so-called project labor agreement,” which can keep non-union companies from bidding or working on state-funded projects. These agreements ensure that more workers are corralled into forced unionism and lead to more spending and higher taxes.
If elect, will you support a ban on all “Project Labor Agreement” which would allow contractors to bid on state construction projects regardless of whether or not their employees pay dues to a union official?
Response: Again, you have made a false and reckless statement. Union dues are not paid to “Union Officials”. Dues are paid to fund the organization. “Union Officials” ARE ELECTED by the employees. To answer this question correctly requires an economic response. As an economist I would answer the question as follows:
Project agreements are by design and structure for the purpose of providing a competitive arena for the contracting of labor, materials and community needs and socio-economic benefit. We all understand that different communities have different standards of living. With that said, it would be unjust for a community like Lansing to project cost a project using Los Angels California costs. The competitive edge must be to maintain and fund the cost and impact of the presiding community. Therefore, by maintaining community standards within socio-economic zones, communities are protected from companies, organizations and other commercial interests that could LOWER the Standards of Living within a community and thereby crippling local economies.
As an Economist, I believe we need forethought and programs to allow Michigan to Grow. Right to Work laws do not make communities stronger or more competitive. They do however reduce the Standard of Living of community members; widen the gap between higher and lower income strata, Lower community economic resources and provide a slippery slope to lower middle class standards of living.
Please remember, without a middle class, there is NO Democracy.
Albert S. Abbasse July 10, 2006
Mr. Albert S. Abbasse (D)
Michigan Senate District 28 Candidate
Please return completed and signed surveys by July 11, 2006
Michigan Right to Work Committee
5859 W. Saginaw Hwy. #217
Lansing, MI 48917-1756
To set the record (and the name) straight, right to work for less does not guarantee any rights. In fact, by weakening unions and collective bargaining, it destroys the best job security protection that exists: the union contract. In fact, this past August of 2006, Gallop Polls conducted a poll with 1001 adults nationwide with a +(-) of 3. The questions and results are as follows:
*Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?
58% of Respondents “Approved” of Unions.
Only 19% of respondents were union members.
*Do you think labor unions mostly help or mostly hurt “The US economy in general”.
54% of respondents opined that “Union” help.
Meanwhile, “Right to Work Laws” allow workers to pay nothing and get all the benefits of union membership. Right to work laws say unions must represent all eligible employees, whether they pay dues or not. This forces unions to use their time and members’ dues money to provide union benefits to free riders who are not willing to pay their fair share.
Right to work laws lower wages for everyone. The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167). Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549). Working families in states without right to work laws have higher wages and benefit from healthier tax bases that improve their quality of life.
Federal law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union to get or keep their jobs. Supporters claim right to work laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled—federal law already does this, as well as protecting nonmembers from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a sham.
Right to work endangers safety and health standards that protect workers on the job by weakening unions that help to ensure worker safety by fighting for tougher safety rules. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.
Right to work laws just aren’t fair to dues-paying members. If a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly legal process. Everyone benefits, so all should share in the process. Nonmembers can even sue the union if they think it has not represented them well enough.
For Immediate Release
Albert S. Abbasse, Campaign to Victory
72nd Michigan House District Candidate March 23, 2006
Jeffery Winston, Campaign Manager
664 Braeside Dr. SE
Byron Center, MI 49315
In March of 2006, Representative Glen Stiel Jr. introduced a two bill legislative package that would make Michigan a “right to work” state and repeal Michigan’s Wage and Hour Laws. He knowingly submitted a packaged legislation that would severely influence public employees, hamper, have a severe and harmful economic impact to local economies throughout Michigan. The impact to the local economies could have sent Michigan into a deeper economic recession than we currently are experiencing.
The weakly executed excuse for the supposed economic principle behind a ‘right to work’ state is as follows: employers may pay any wage amount to any worker, not provide any benefits that the employer does not want to supply, not pay fair overtime wages, nor have work hour limitations, not have safety workplace laws in place to assure an employee’s safe protection practices and even forego protections from environmental protections, we have serious problem facing us.
The Right to Work legislation that was offered and is still being pressed by the Michigan and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Realtors, other business associations and even Mr. Stiels Jr’s chosen successor, his wife, and almost ALL Republican members of the Michigan House and Senate has their full undying (yours of course not theirs) support.
I would like to propose a compromise to the Chambers, Republican leadership and anyone that supports ‘right to work’ to the following.
I believe as an economist that ‘right to work’ is Wrong for Michigan.
- It weakens local economies
- It weakens the states Gross Domestic State Product (fewer buyers)
- It Eliminates Michigan Wage and Hour Laws that protect workers rights
- It Eliminates Michigan Workers right to bargain
- It Eliminates and/or delimits Michigan’s Worker Safety Programs
- It Eliminates Worker rights to extended hour overtime pay.
- It Eliminates Employer obligations to Health and Safety protections.
These are just a few and I do not wish to bore the populist. So I will proceed with my compromise proposal.
I feel a program of this magnitude should be a top-down product. If it is good for the masses then it should be good for Everyone. Let’s start the Michigan “Right to Work” Beta program with the Michigan Legislature. I propose:
• Michigan Senate Pay at $16.00 per salaried work week
• Michigan House Pay at $14.00 per salaried work week
• Outside of a 50 mile radius of Lansing, $50.00 per week fuel expense
• No meal per diem
• No gym privileges
• One Office Assistant
• One Legislative Assistant
• $100.00 per week lodging expense if outside of 50 mile radius
• No Health Care
• 401k with no state contribution
• No opportunity for workman’s compensation if they trip and fall
That pretty well sums my position. Nevertheless, the reality of life is this, these are not forward thinking policy initiatives; these are regressive legislative initiatives that penalize Michigan families and workers. We need initiatives such as a fair and just business tax formula that will support Michigan’s infrastructure, bring jobs to Michigan, allow Michigan commerce to be competitive, and allow Michigan’s economy to grow. We need leaders with forethought of progressive, innovative ideas that are willing to protect Michigan’s economy, protect Michigan Citizens, and simply work to make Michigan Better.”
Al Abbasse is the legislative candidate for the 72nd Michigan House District. Mr. Abbasse is an Economist and Political Scientist in West Michigan.
The Republican dominated Michigan House has gone too far. This week Representative’s Gosselin (R-Troy), Drolet (R-Clinton Twp) along with Stiel Jr. (R-Kent) introduced a two bill legislative package that would make Michigan a right-to-work state. HB 5771 will severely impact public employees, HB 5772, would severely impair private sector workers in Michigan.
Democratic Candidate for the 28th District Senate seat (Kent County), Albert S. Abbasse is infuriated by the audacity of these legislators to remove basic Michigan work standards from our hard working citizens. Abbasse on Tuesday afternoon stated, “This Republican dominated legislature has been meticulous in their efforts to subvert Michigan’s working families.
Representative Stiel brings to the table laws, which will degrade Michigan’s worker and subvert Michigan’s middle-class. Mr. Stiel has brought forth legislation to reduce Michigan citizen’s representation in our state. Mr. Stiel is no friend to Michigan workers, families nor the district to which he took oath to serve. He should be ashamed of himself for even the mere suggestion.