Busting a Meme: Union Membership Has Increased in Right-To-Work Indiana

One mantra that the left and most of the establishment press continually recites — and it's not surprising, given that so many people in both groups are forced to be members themselves — is that right to work laws are "anti-union." They cling to that position despite that fact that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation accurately insists that it "is neither 'anti-union' nor 'pro-union,'" and that its "focus is on individual freedom."

Towards the end of the Associated Press's coverage of Wisconsin's legislative passage and Governor Scott Walker's imminent signing of right to work legislation, a Republican supporter made a point using real numbers which should give pause to those who claim that right to work is all about union-busting — but almost definitely won't:

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos argued during debate that the measure would actually make unions stronger because they would now have to work harder for their members in order to get them to pay dues.

And he pointed to Indiana, where union membership has increased from 9.1 percent of all workers in 2012, to 10.7 percent last year. In Wisconsin, union membership has steadily decreased from 17.8 percent in 2000 to just 11.7 percent last year.

To be clear, as shown here, union membership in Indiana declined sharply in 2012, moving from 11.3 of the statewide workforce to the 9.1 pericent noted above. The Hoosier State passed right to work in February of that year. But since then, as Vos noted, it has picked up significantly.

Unfortunately, the government doesn't break out private sector vs. public sector membership at the state level, but a late-January report from Sylvia Bao at Indiana Public Media indicates that the state's relatively strong economy and relatively robust job growth may have led to private-sector union pickups:

Carmel Republican Representative Jerry Torr, who authored the right-to-work measure, says the major reason for the rise in membership is lower unemployment last year, and he says some union jobs were created because of the right-to-work law.

“It played a role in increasing the overall number of jobs in Indiana, putting more people to work, and then that creates more construction activity, which a lot of that is union work,” Torr says.

The rate of union membership in the workforce rose in 10 out of the 24 right-to-work states in 2014. That rate remained highest in forced-unionization states where unions can require mandatory dues.

Readers should note that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has not publicly objected to the just-noted results favorable to unions in current right to work states.

Maybe he didn't intend to, but the head of Indiana's AFL-CIO admitted that the Badger State's Vos is right in July 2014, when Bao reported the following:

Indiana AFL-CIO president Brett Voorhies credits unions’ efforts to serve their members with averting those outcomes.

... Voorhies says the organization hasn‘t changed its view that the law was a bad one.

Of course he hasn't, but the bottom line is this: Union leaders may not like it, but right to work forces them to redouble their efforts to effectively represent their members. If they don't, many workers will decide that it's not worth parting with their hard-earned money to become or remain members.

So when is the press going to stop calling right to work presumptively anti-union?

Don't hold your breath, as it probably won't happen until they have the integrity to report on signs like this one carried by "pro-union" protesters:


Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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