Saturday, January 10, 2015

A New Mexico "Right To Work" Primer

GOP: Welcome to the Round House
I assume you brought your chain saws, crow bars and U-Hauls...

There may have been a moment of confused uncertainty in the minds of Republicans as they rolled into Santa Fe to take over the New Mexico House. These new Representatives were probably trying to "piece together" different figments of faux ideology they had heard on hate radio into something coherent enough for a news conference. Presumably, there were ALEC "educational meetings" already scheduled to rough out the Party's legislative priorities for the exceptionally slow ones.

[MeanMesa assumes that simply issuing written instructions from the ALEC "campaign benefactors" would prove to be "just too much" for some of the newly elected Texan carpet baggers, oil barons  and other right wing riff raff arriving from the New Mexico hinterlands.]

Oh, what to do? The new Republican House members were like kids in a candy store. Wing nut ideas were flying around like gnats at an abandoned picnic on a hot Los Cruces afternoon. 

New Abortion laws? Sorry, Albuquerque sent the abortion evangelicals back to Kansas.
Stand your ground laws? Sorry, New Mexico is already 2nd most violent state in the union.
Obliterate environmental regulations? Sorry, Susana has already undone most of the "coal and coughing" regulations in her first term.
Tax cuts? Sorry, New Mexico is the poorest state in the union. That means New Mexico has some of the poorest people and the lowest wages -- and, the lowest tax revenue. Even the "rainy day fund" got mangled a few years ago on Wall Street.
Dumping NM ObamaCare exchange? Sorry, too many New Mexicans finally have health insurance for the first time and more are joining -- and...some of them are Republicans.
How about a few million more for "economic development?" Darn, it's never worked before, and Susana is keeping the results of the last try secret. [There's always the chance that New Mexicans might have already forgotten the last time, the time before that, the time before that and the time before that...]

Well, since this latest bunch Republican House members is rather inexperienced at the job, the House leadership has picked something they hoped everyone would find "easily understandable:

union busting.

The "strategy" to accomplish this would be proposing legislation to turn New Mexico into a Right To Work state.

Very importantly, unions could be blamed for all the expensive failures of "economic development!" Plus, the oligarchs and corporations funneling the cash into ALEC already hated unions for all sorts of reasons. It would amount to "killing two birds with one stone." The plan would produce an immediate down payment on all the favors that were owed to those who made this "massive" Republican House take over possible, and -- even though the logic behind such a move was a "little flaky," it would firmly establish the old GOP "winner take all" atmosphere before anyone had time to become confused.

For years the state had invested billions of job creation dollars in bribes to a rather strange variety of industrial manufacturers with utterly dismal results, and all of this financial tragedy could be blamed on unions!

However, even though the idea looked pretty darned flashy in "right wing world," the numbers were going to need a little "tweeking."

As to the numbers, New Mexico has around 825,000 people currently employed in private sector jobs, a figure which seems to fluctuate up and down fairly regularly by around 40,000 a quarter. [Read more here - US Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Yet, in Republican "talking point world" there were hordes of grumbling, snarling New Mexico union workers -- ddefinitely "takers" -- who had consistently sabotaged every one of these "honest, forward thinking" efforts to improve the State's economy, and they had to be stopped. The problem was with the size of these "hordes." How many New Mexican union workers are there in a "horde," anyway?

Center for Economic and Policy Research
Report on Private Sector Union Membership, 2012
By John Schmitt, Janelle Jones and Milla Sanes [visit the CEPR site here]
                                                   Number of Union Members    Union Membership Rate (%)
                                           2011              2012            Change           2011     2012      Change (p.p.)

New Mexico       15,136        15,360        224         2.9       2.8           -0.1

So, it turns out that a "horde" of New Mexico private sector union members is around 15,000. [The statistics are for 2013, but the numbers haven't changed much.] So -- 15,000 unionized "bad apples" in a state labor force of 825,000 private sector workers has managed to wreck all the bright, optimistic "economic development" plans for our state's new prosperity. Darn.

MeanMesa suspects that the state's "economic development money" apparently wound up creating a crop of New Mexico millionaires instead of hundreds of New Mexico jobs. The jobs statistics definitely are not suggesting that it has created jobs.

Why Do the ALEC Billionaires Want
"Right To Work" In New Mexico
There seems to be very little here to steal...

We can begin by "clearing the air" just a little. The billionaires who own the Republican Party could not possibly be less interested in somehow "assisting" some employee working in a union shop's labor force to be able to avoid joining the union, paying union dues and still work there. The fate of individual workers has never been interesting to them.

On the other hand, what does interest them can be spelled out pretty briefly. They love low wages -- the ones that are less than union scale. These turn directly into profit and go directly into their off shore accounts. They love paltry benefit packages. The difference in cost between cheap, crappy benefits and reasonable ones turns directly into profit and go directly into their off shore accounts. They hate spending money on good, safe working conditions for the same reasons.

And, at the top of the list if things "detested" by the owners of the Republican Party, the really well heeled among those owners hate organized union campaign workers. [By "well heeled," MeanMesa is referring to the cash handy plutocrats and the "free range," unregulated corporations who can painlessly finance ALEC and other hateful, wing nut super PACs.] If they want similar campaign workers for candidates they support, they have to pay them. They are also not particularly fond of "get out the vote" efforts that union workers seem to enjoy because "all the wrong people" wind up voting.

Creating a "right to work" state in New Mexico would lethally degrade unions by essentially evaporating the compensation a worker pays for the benefits of union representation. If there is any remaining curiosity as the the "mechanism" right to work laws employ to neutralize the fundamental revenue stream supporting unions, this is the "mechanism."

There remains no discernible reason not to characterize the process as union busting.

Five Takes On the "Right To Work" Plan
Read through these and there will be
little question as to who now owns the media...
and why blogs have become so important.

MeanMesa roamed through the offerings in the GOOGLE a bit before selecting the following five articles. Between them, the main points to be extracted from contemporary propaganda, "academic" conclusions concerning some sort of "economic theory," local "oatmeal" reporting and "business forums" openly sympathetic the the idea. Be aware: there are a fascinating amount of "every body knows" conclusions being bandied about in these articles which should "avoid the light of day" if their authors intend to maintain their credibility.

In the fact-free morass of "right wing world" they sound as good as gold.

1. KOAT Albuquerque
[Visit the original article here - KOAT ]

MeanMesa: This is a fairly good example of what is to be found in local reporting. Notably, Republican Gentry's claim that "Right to work states" have better-paying jobs, lower "instances" of unemployment and high incomes doesn't really correlate to facts on the ground. The "token" Democrat's sole comment was that "RTW" would impact health care options is practically a paid advertisement suggesting that the real damage would be limited to this. Coverage like this fails to present the actual arguments -- or facts -- to New Mexicans.

Officials debate New Mexico
 as a right-to-work state
Republicans to push for New Mexico to become right-to-work state

by Megan Cruz Jan 3,2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —"Right to work" is a controversial issue that could change the future of economic development in New Mexico.

Republicans said they'll push for New Mexico to become a right-to-work state in 2015, meaning employers cannot force employees to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Rep. Nate Gentry said it'll mean better-paying jobs for New Mexicans.

"Right-to-work states have lower instances of unemployment and have higher incomes," Gentry said.

But Democrats disagree, saying right-to-work legislation is wrong for New Mexico.

Sen. Michael Sanchez said weaker unions could mean "a lower income (because) they don't have as much health insurance or (any) health insurance at all," Sanchez said. "The impact it would have on families, in my opinion, would be devastating."

There's also a difference in opinion when it comes to whether or not a right-to-work law would bring more businesses to the state.

Some thought electric automaker Tesla passed up on New Mexico because it is not a right-to-work state.

"Time and time again, the fact that we're not a right-to-work state takes us off the table for a lot of businesses to consider locating here," Gentry said.

"Their priority isn't, 'Are you a right-to-work state or not?' It's based on labor skills and costs," Sanchez said.

Twenty-four states are right-to-work, including Nebraska, Mississippi, and Virginia. New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are among the states that are not.

2. Albuquerque Business First
[Read the original article here - Bizjournal]

MeanMesa: When a business journal's "reporter" cites arguments in favor of the right to work idea from the President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation the blind ideology is getting pretty thick, and any lingering hint of objective analysis has just flown out the window. Pay attention. Arguments in favor of right to work usually cite comparisons of various states with and without it and imply that the differences are fundamentally a result of whether or not they have right to work. Right to work is not the primary difference between current state economies, over shadowing population, industrial development, prevailing revenue levels and other measures.

Would ‘right-to-work’ law
make NM more competitive?

by Damon Scott
  Mar 25, 2013

A national expert on “right-to-work” laws encouraged a crowd of commercial real estate executives and government officials Monday to begin a push to pass the legislation in New Mexico.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said the law gives workers the right to refuse to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Mix spoke at an event sponsored by the New Mexico chapter of NAIOP — Commercial Real Estate Development Association Monday at the Albuquerque Marriott at 2101 Louisiana Blvd. NE.

Right-to-work laws exist in some form in 24 states, mostly in the South and West. The laws do not, as some think, provide a guarantee of employment to people seeking work.

Mix said passing the law in New Mexico would make the state more competitive with states that have already passed versions of it. He added that he’s heard from companies that make site selections based in part on whether a state has the law on the books.

Mix said the laws do not outlaw unions, end collective bargaining or prohibit a worker from joining a union. He said states that have right-to-work enjoy a higher per capita disposable income.

“Right-to-work is not a panacea, but is a piece of the puzzle to compete with other states for jobs,” he said. “From an economic development standpoint, it’s positive to have the debate.”

Mix also serves as president of the National Right to Work Committee, a 2.6 million-member public policy organization. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNBC and CNN.

Those opposed to the law say, among other things, that a union’s ability to improve work conditions beyond legal minimums is weakened when membership declines.

The right-to-work issue has gotten attention in New Mexico lately. Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry said in a recent speech at NAIOP that it’s time to start talking about whether New Mexico needs right-to-work legislation.

And a National Federation of Independent Business poll recently found that 78 percent of New Mexico small business owners surveyed think New Mexico should pass a right-to-work law.

3. The Washington Post
[Read the original article here - Washington POST ]

MeanMesa: The focus on "whether or not unions can require workers to pay union dues" is the propaganda slant aimed at workers who are or might be required to pay union dues. The prospect of bringing home a larger pay check is appealing, but with it comes the prospect of working somewhere essentially without any union representation or protection. No, these are not openly presented as a result of right to work, but the inevitable destruction of unions trying to function without the revenue of union dues should be.

Lawmakers are starting to talk
 about making New Mexico
 a right-to-work state

By Niraj Chokshi
November 14, 2014

Republicans control the New Mexico state legislature for the first time in 60 years, and lawmakers there are beginning to suggest they may use their new majority to restrict union power.

State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) told the Albuquerque Journal that now “could be the time we get it through both houses,” referring to a right-to-work bill that would allow the state to prevent unions from requiring workers to pay dues. If the legislature were to pass the law during its two-month session that starts in late January, it would become the 25th state with such a law.

In states that lack right-to-work laws, labor unions may require employees to pay dues regardless of whether they join because they benefit from the negotiations the union conducts on the behalf of all employees.

Last year, 21 states and D.C. considered right-to-work laws, though only Tennessee passed one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The year before, 19 states considered it, and four states passed various versions of laws that expanded or established right-to-work provisions. Generally, debate has come in waves since stats began enacting right-to-work laws in the 1940s, according to NCSL:

The first right-to-work laws were passed in the 1940s and 1950s, predominantly in Southern states. Most right-to-work laws were enacted by statute but 10 states adopted them by constitutional amendments. There was a surge of interest in the issue in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, but only a handful of states have enacted right to work laws since the initial wave in the mid-20th century.

Ingle said the state’s lack of such a law puts it at an economic disadvantage because several neighboring states have such laws: “If we’re going to compete in New Mexico and draw businesses, we’re going to have to do something,” he told the Journal.

The resurgence of the right-to-work debate comes as unions suffer from waning influence, with approval near 75-year lows. More than a dozen states have curtailed collective bargaining rights in recent years, and union membership has declined in 43 states since 2003.

Gallup Poll: Do you approve of labor unions?

4. GIVE UP [a blog]
[Excerpted. Read the original article here - GIVEUPBLOG]

MeanMesa: The important point for including this excerpt from a blog is to paint a "bigger picture" of the political and economic realities of states with right to work. The two maps show that the same states which are "beating the odds" and receiving more Federal dollars than they are contributing are very often the same ones with right to work. Why would additional Federal dollars be funneled into right to work states? For starters, because poverty rates are higher, and wages are lower.
50 state "economic freedom" ratings
The map from this site.
The map from the e21 site [below]
See any similarities? [MeanMesa]
It seems as though 7 of the top ten states receive more federal dollars than they contribute, two of the three "economically free" states that contribute more than they take are blue states. Then take a look at the bottom ten and you seven of the ten pay out more than they receive (and the ones that don't nearly break even). So, in other words, the economically free states are the ones that end up bilking the blue states out of federal tax dollars because their tax incomes are inadequate to cover the costs of administering their state budgets.

Then consider this idea that "jobs are flocking" to these states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in Kansas, where these jobs are supposedly flocking to, is the same as in New York, and Massachusetts and New Jersey actually have lower unemployment rates. Most unemployment rates in this country are more or less the same, falling between 4 and 5 percent, highest in Mississippi at 7.9% (eight of the ten highest unemployment rates are in red states). Then consider the rate of change in these rates, and you see California and New York are decreasing their unemployment at a faster rate than Kansas (0.8 vs 0.5 percent respectively>. The states with the most rapidly increasing unemployment rates are mostly red (8 of 10 are red states). Also, check out Figure 1 and 2 on the left, of the comparison of the so-called "right-to-work" states with other states and you see these economic freedom measures simply lower wages without any great decrease in unemployment benefit. By all means, move to these "economic freedom" states to work for a lower wage, and at the same time receive fewer services from their governments. It's clearly a measure of freedom not to have healthcare, good hospitals, decent wages, or an infant mortality rate worthy of the first world. Sh*t, why stop at moving to these "economically free" red states? Why not just move all the way to Mexico, not get taxed at all, and live in a place where 50% of the labor force has to work in another country in order to pay the damn bills.

If I'm wrong, explain to me how economic freedom corresponds to taking more federal tax money than other states with higher GDPs, then claiming you are somehow economically superior? The unfree states are subsidizing their tax idiocy, and then the WSJ claims that jobs are flocking to these states, when it's clear as many or more jobs are flocking to places like California and New York. Then look at any other measure of quality of life, measurements of the efficacy of state government (summarized in some of the Give Up maps) and you see that the Blue states are providing better services and quality of life while subsidizing the regressive tax policies of the "free" states.
5. e21: The Manhattan Institute
[Excerpted. Read the entire article here - e21: The Manhattan Institute]

MeanMesa: If you've ever wondered how right to work "helps unions and economic growth," here is the answer. The Manhattan Institute tells visitors to their site about themselves, perhaps explaining why their position that right to work "helps unions." This is from their "About Us:" page.

We aim to advance free enterprise, fiscal discipline, economic growth, and the rule of law. Drawing on the expertise of practitioners, policymakers, and academics, we will encourage a spirited debate about the way forward for democratic capitalism. And we will do so in a manner that is accessible and engaging, in a way that appeals to both experts and non-experts

Realize that a steady stream of this is the sort of arcane nonsense is what voters in the Republican base are hearing -- and believing. The grossly "detail-free" comparisons of state economies -- each time implying that the presence or absence of right to work laws is responsible -- saturates the narrative, culminating in the "data" and calculations which purportedly have yielded the "map." Case in point: " displaying how much each state lost in per capita income because it did not have RTW." Now, that is a piece of real research, right?

If you have -- quite sensibly -- decided to engage Pro-Right To Work sentiments in the New Mexico debate, you can anticipate encountering conversations in which material such as this will be tacitly considered "fact."

How Right to Work Helps
 Unions and Economic Growth
Jason Russell

With steadily declining membership, unions are shifting their public relations and political contributions into overdrive in hopes of wooing new members to their cause. Many of these political contributions have been spent opposing Right to Work (RTW) laws, which give workers the right to not join a union even if their workplace is unionized.

This is a mistake. States with RTW laws have faster economic growth, and union membership is growing in RTW states. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, from 2004 to 2013 total union membership rose by 0.5 percent in RTW states but declined by 4.6 percent in non-RTW states. RTW is win-win for the economy and for unions.

Twenty-four states have RTW laws today. Over time, people and assets have migrated from non-RTW states to RTW states, causing their economic growth to increase. New research by the Competitive Enterprise Institute suggests that states that have relatively recent or no RTW laws experienced slower economic growth over the past 35 years.

Researchers Richard K. Vedder and Jonathan Robe examined economic growth in RTW states versus non-RTW states from 1977-2012, while controlling for outside factors, such as the rate of population growth and the percentage of the employed in manufacturing, that might alter their results. They concluded that RTW laws alone created an extra 11.5 percentage points of economic growth per state over that time period. Vedder and Robe then examined how much economic growth each state had lost as a result of its non-RTW status. Below [the map is "above"] is a map displaying how much each state lost in per capita income because it did not have RTW.


As with any economic research, these results are not definitive. However, they suggest that RTW attracts businesses, which then create jobs, adding to economic growth. 


Although conservative Alaska has seen the largest loss of per capita income growth ($5,238), its particular situation should not be extrapolated to other states because its climate and size make it difficult to grow a business. Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, and Maryland immediately follow Alaska, leaving many liberal strongholds with the most to gain from passing RTW laws. It is likely that small-government states, such as Kentucky and Montana, are offsetting their non-RTW status with other policies that increase growth.

If unions want to gain more members and make them better off, they should flip their anti-RTW position and give workers the right to choose whether or not to join.

MeanMesa Will Imitate the NRA
Acknowledging that Republican Congresses
 don't actually listen to anybody who actually votes...
let's go ahead and "score" the right to work votes.

Since the newly seated New Mexico State House majority has already taken a page from the national Republican "play book," and begun, helter skelter, their frantic run to implement every single talking point which has ever issued forth from a FOX pundit without any regard whatsoever about what "normal" citizens might want, the rest of us may as well jump on the "band wagon." After all, when polls showed that 80%+ of American voters wanted back ground checks after Newtown, the US Congress effortlessly ignored the clear will of the people.

The reason for this was what is called "scoring." The NRA gleefully informed all the cravenly cowardly Congressmen that it would be "scoring" the vote on back ground checks. Any Congressman who voted for the background check bill would get a "bad score." 

That threat wouldn't have amounted to much if it had not also included the additional threat of millions of NRA gun manufacturer dollars going to the campaign war chest of absolutely anybody who was running against one of these "poorly scoring" Congressman in the next primary election.

Well, after hearing that some New Mexico Democrats in Santa Fe are "considering" voting for this ALEC right to work bill, MeanMesa has grown just grumpy enough to think that this NRA "scoring," campaign extortion idea may have some merit after all, that is, it may be useful to us, too.

So, for what it's worth, MeanMesa will be "scoring" any vote on a New Mexico right to work bill in the Round House. Any New Mexico Democratic Representative or Senator who votes for this piece of ALEC detritus should expect a "robust" treatment from this blog, certainly including "naming names."

MeanMesa has a GOOGLE and isn't afraid to use it.

MeanMesa has never been a union member, but MeanMesa has benefited plenty from what unions have accomplished. The same can be said for most New Mexicans. This can also be said for the State of New Mexico's economy

New Mexico needs more private sector union jobs 
-- not fewer!

New Mexico needs more union trained skilled laborers 
-- not fewer!

New Mexico needs more workers drawing union scale pay checks -- not fewer!

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