tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 13, 2015 7:30am-8:01am EDT
filmmakers here do have an audience keen to discover the stories this continent has to tell. al jazeera at the cartagena film festival. >> you can keep up to date with all the news, the very latest and all of our top stories at aljazeera.com. night. hello, i'm ray suarez. in the 20th century workers marched, fought, sometimes died for the right to organise unions. in the 21st century the flavour is different, rolling back the closed shop, rolling back mandatory dues. states like michigan and wisconsin wants soil for organising right to work states. what was the hallmark, hostility to organise labour is spreading to unheard of faces. we'll be joined by the head of a
milwaukee federation, seeing the change from the inside and will explore the exactimpact the right to work union will have, as wisconsin gets "inside story". our right to work laws good for the economy, and workers. or just for the businesses that higher workers. we'll debate the impact of right to work laws on wisconsin and other states, with two labour experts. we begin with wisconsin, and one man, the state's republican governor. this week, walker a 2016
contendant signed a law making it a 26th workers state, workers are not compelled to pay union fees in order to keep a job. it's a dramatic turn of events from a state that had a high number of union members. and heir to a senator that championed organised labour, and ran for president as a progressive party candidate in 1924. despite the history, the passage of the right to work law was not unexpected. governor scott walker has been at war with unions virtually as soon as he was elect. walker proposed act 10. a bill stripping public employees in the state of all collective bargaining rites. police and firefighters were exempt. democratic firefighters fled the state. dozens flocked to the capital building in madison.
weeks of demonstrations got attention. act 10 passed in 2011, and labour union and supporters launched an effort to recall governor walk area. he jived. in june 2012, and june "14 he won election. now walker signed right to wok into law for the private sector workers, observers believed curtailing public sector rights responsible for a decline in membership. in 2010, 14% of the workforce belonged to a union. it's understand 12%, a difference of 40,000 workers. joining us now is a wisconsin union leader on the front lines of the battle. dan is an alderman for the town of oak creek wisconsin. welcome to the programme. thank you, ray. what will change, and how
quickly will it change in workplaces that here to for require everyone to be fully paid up. >> well the speed of which it changes really is up for the membership. the membership has the right to continue paying dues. or to opt out and choose not to contribute to the value they receive from their representation. so, really, the speed is going to depend on individual members. >> so when the next period cams around, they can decide that is it, i don't want to pay any more, but get the benefit of what a collective bargaining unit works out. >> you are correct in some regards. contacts in effect that will be required to stay within the rules of that collective bargained agreement until it expires or is modified. but after that, yes. they will be able to free load
on those that pay, and be allowed to enjoy the benefits of a collective bargain - bargain contract. grievance representation. and everything that goes along with it benefits. basically for free. >> what is the case you would make then to an individual worker who feels, wow, i could get all the benefits without paying for the costs? >> well, you know, once again, i mean, let's put it in the simplest of the breakdown terms. membership fees, there's no such thing as a free lunch. in everybody decided to act out. you would be out of business you'd have no collective bargaining windows, no grievance rights. basically yawnion strength bit the -- union strength built the middle class, building union and
non-union middle class up. you have to remember that the union sets the bar. when the union is raised, nonunion alike get the raze. once again, if everything opted out, it would - we'd be back to probably about turn of the century conditions in the working areas. >> well, let's get down to specifics. for decades you made your living as a union electrician, a member of ibew. when you walked on to a job site with a union card in your wallet. what's the difference between that work then and what will go on on a job site in kanosha. milwaukee, what is going to be different. well, slowly the training will change. i was afforded training. every member before me paid into a found fund.
that was through union dews. -- dues. all that goes out the window. i was asked to pull wire, put in pie. it was done by standards established over years. you have identified who you will be up against, working next to. safety and quality will erode. it will not play good for customers and business owners. and it will not play well for the employees. the average person in the right to work state makes basically 5,000 less a year than those in a state that does not have right to work. >> but in what you are saying is true. won't the big contractors be on your side. won't the big building outfits say look, we like the way it's been going so far, because we have trained workers on the site.
don't you have other allies besides the workers themselves? >> ray, in this recent battle for right to work. we had 450 contractors in the wisconsin contractors coalition that publicly came out to oppose this. some of our biggest contractors in the state with 10,000 employees that employed people doing roadwork, piping, infrastructure came out and opposed this publicly. they were not afraid to put the name on a sheet of paper and do it, or to a website. we had allies. the legislators refused to listen to their constituents and here. >> i've worked in the midwest as a reporter, i've been to union rallies with presidential candidates running for the files in november. or the party
primaries in the year. is this battle over. is this a once and forall one in done political step. not at all. the forces that be - i believe that they are from outside the borders that are driving this, because we had no manufacturers come off and state their name that they wanted or needed this. this was not done by any means. they'll keep eroding and divide and con kerr people. they had complete control of a person's working right. is wisconsin among the ranks of right to work states. snat. >> no, not by a long shot, ray. once again. it could be repealed.
again, you would need a fast majority like we have, and you have to go at it heavy-handedly as we have seen happen to repeal it. next you see prevailing waij channels. >> the president of the milwaukee building and trades council. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> we'll we back with more "inside story" after a short break. when we return - we'll widen the picture from wisconsin to the rest of the country. what is happening to make the unimaginable strongholds like pammela micheo and wisconsin imaginable right to work futures. stay with us. it's inside story.
welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. let's take a look at the new world of organised labour in america. fully half the states have ended the union shop and gone to right to work laws. wisconsin - long a bastion of industrial unions is the newest right to work state. following michigan and indiana. next it could be kentucky and illinois, seen of some of the battles over struggles to organise. at pleases like international harvester, paulman, the stock starts of chicago, and coal mines of kentucky. we can look at the big losses, in once fertile soil. we are joined by the senior fellow at the competitive
enterpriseinter enterpriseinstitute. and a lawyer. and author. let's talk about individual workers, what is the advantage for them. is there a strong interest in being an individual contractor rather than a member of the corrective bargaining unit? >> yes, there's a big study. we did a study pointing out the competitive enterprises, how much an individual makes more in a right to work state than they do in her compulsory unionism state. there's 3,000 to 5,000 more in a state where you have a right to work. >> i don't understand how that could be so. in states like alabama, south carolina, others across the south have lower per capita incomes, and it's been measured for years, lower wages among the
average working person. how could it be that a right to workshop has a higher prevailing wage. everyone knows that unions are deterrent. unions were not as prevalent, and that is in the right to work states in the south. that is why you are seeing the economies growing and people moving there. and when the higher wages deter business from going to the likes of detroit. they go down south, but as the economy is flourished from businesses moving down south, then you find the flourishing economies translate to increased remuneration, higher pay, higher benefits for the people in the states. that's how it works. >> during the organising vote at volkswagen, volkswagen said we'd rather talk to a union than a bunch of individual workers, and
yet they lost - the u.a.w. last are the organising vote, and now what the wages in a plant that volkswagen built will be higher? >> it's in the long haul. in peninsula, where a vw plants was unionized and they went out of business. what you want. an interesting case study is that there are member only unions, there are two unions certified in chattanooga, and they act like associations where people join or don't. >> tom gagon, what do you make of what you heard from the institute. is it a better deal for a worker to head into the plant and not have a union card in his pocket. >> the koch brothers who funded the study poured millions in
fighting unions and getting right o work. surprise, surprise, the koch brother study counselled out what they are doing increases wages. it's nonsense. lots of studies have been done, economic policy institute has one showing in right to work states the average wam is $6,000 less than in nonright to work states. and if you look at states with the highest unemployment. seven of those so are right to work states. if you look at a study by economic cooperation and develops, it's based in paris. fairly conservative. they found in terms of quality of life eight of the ten states were not right to work. eight of 10 with the lowest quality of life were right to work. statistics shows there's a drop
in living standards when right to work comes in. >> workers by their thousands have the opportunity to turn their backs on union memberships. when you give them the chance to opt out. they do. haven't these men and women, who you would say are advantaged by union membership have not been convinced of that fact? >> well, they don't turn their back on union coverage. it's important for people to understand that at least immediately in the short term, there is not less union coverage, it's just that individuals who have been receiving union benefits continue to do it without having to pay dues. >> ray, i have this experience all the time as a union side lawyer, and other agents do, where there's a right to work situation. one of them told me how she goes to other teachers in a right to work situation and says we are doing all these things for
teachers, shouldn't you be paying dues. the standard response is let's see, you are doing a wonderful job for us. i don't see why you need me. >> let me jump in there. where does that trend line lead. if you have got more free riders, if wisconsin opened the door to workers, machinists, pipe fitters, people in places like harley davidson, in the briggs and stratton, if they don't have to carry a union card, is there at some point at the end of that timeline a place where there's no collective bargaining agent. >> that can happen, or more likely it's harder for unions to organise when new employers come in, they don't have the money they have before, it's expensive to hire organizers. it's partly because it's expensive to hire organizers. it's very, very, very difficult
to organise in the united states unlike other countries, because you have to go through a long legal process. you have to go through an election where you get 50 interests plus to have anyone represented at all. and the litigation which management can continue for years is very expensive j training. management has more money to play out the litigation if they can drain the union of money. it's easier for them to win the legal battles and stop the organising from occurring. in the long run there'll be less organising. that's where the drop comes. less organising. but later in the time line. probably a lot more places without a collective bargaining agent. will stats look different. will workers cut the same deals with management than when they
are free riders. >> they'll be able to cut better deals, your remuneration and pay should do with your productivity. it's not a productivitiy, a merritt okay rahsy, it works by seniority. as long as you have been there, the longer you have been there the about thor off -- the better off you are. the people that provide the most work who are the most productive that get the best pay. >> you'll be back with more inside story. >> i'll let you responds after the break. bear with me. >> back with more "inside story" in the moment. has the trend line turned inextricably in one path. why are many workers ready to chuck the union or elect politicians willing and able to do it for them. story". stay with us.
you're watching "inside story" on al jazeera america. om-ray suarez. rock i'm ray suarez. unions bought american workers a 5-day work week, overtime, safety laws and the voice to speak to management about how a place was run. in the textile mills, in mines and factories across the midwest. in lumber mills and docks. on movie sets and hollywood. such protection was welcome. workers and management had plenty of compliants about unions, feather bedding and corruption, intimidation and racism. after winning some of the most important arguments there were about the rights of a workers, and his or her place in society, are unions as necessary today. tom gagon, and aloysius hogan are with me. i'll give you a chance to respond. i expect mr hogan was claiming that wages should go up with
productivity. as unions disappeared in the 1970s, here is what happened. from 1979 to 2014, g.d.p. has gone up 150%. productivity has gone up an astonishing 75%. hourly wages have gone up 5%. 0.2" a year. total disconnect from productivity, and since 2002, for 80%. the bottom 80% of the workforce, men and women, wages have dropped. so one of the reasons for bringing back a labour movement which i argued for, only one thing can save us is to connect up wage gains with productivity. the koch brothers are not in favour
of the wage gains and higher productivity, because wages would be higher. >> crazy left-wing publications like the economist in london noted that the workers claimed less of a share of productivity world. >> let's put to this way. the workers should be free to associate with who they want. people can join, if they like, and one year they join, one year they don't. unions you must join, and they are fighting a pay wage, and you can't get them to agree, and there has been legislation introduced to allow racers to go along with person's productivity. the unions don't like that.
>> i think they'd be delighted to sign on to a bill. productivity increased 75%, wages 5. so sign me up. what about that. it's a demongs available fact. >> well, i think if we can get support here for the raise abbing. that would be a -- razac, that's a wonderful thing. james points out that there are other benefits to having a right to work state. for one thing the monopoly of the union in compulsory union drives up the dos, and the workers are not wanting to pay the dues. in the right to work state. they are less than in fact the salaries of the big wigs, the press debts of the young -- precedence of the union is lower in the right to work states. that's a side benefit. of a
right to work state. dew -- dews are not set. these are democratic decisions. they are not decisions made top-down or by legislators or anything else. are we at a point where the trend line can be put back in the other direction. i know that's sure where you want. it's not clear that it's what workers want. how do you talk to workers about the benefits of unions in a way that makes them want to be in them and not be free riders. we have so many more union members, if we have an opportunity to organise freely and fairly without people being fired. one of the very difficult things about the united states is that it is so hard to get a union in place. 50% plus one voting,
intimidation, white the union organising campaign is going on, and this exclusive representation system which requires the union to be the exclusive representative of everybody, rather than representing the people that want to join. that is what can't occur in the united states. aloysius hogan, are you confident that illinois and kentucky will join the list. >> i'm optimistic about kentucky. 25.5 states are right to work states. kentucky have been doing it by county. half of kentucky is covered by right to work protections. it's an there. >> i have two-thirds of a law firm, an irish law firm. that's all for this edition of "inside story". we want you to talk back to your television. visit our facebook page and give us your feedback. we invite you to follow us on twitter.
see you next time in washington i'm ray suarez. >> joint military exercises between united states and south korea are regular occurrences. this one, codenamed max thunder - took place in november at the kunsan air force base 150 miles south of seoul... >> this type of exercise takes place every year but for the north korean government they consider this a provocation and a threat.