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Right to work for less

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The Northwest Herald gave editorial space on Labor Day to Paul Kersey, who said the labor movement is in decline because its union leaders are politically extreme.

Five days earlier, Scott Reeder wrote that Illinois union membership declined 5.5 percent from 2005 to 2011, but that the state’s pension difficulties escalated because unions wielded too much influence.

What? The pension systems have been underfunded, cheated for over half a century because timid politicians feared raising taxes. Pensioners made their required payments; the state ignored theirs. But I digress. Reeder concluded that Illinois would be better off if it became a right-to-work state.

Reeder and Kersey are colleagues at the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank with ties to the Koch brother’s American Legislative Exchange Council. Among other things, ALEC writes corporate wish-list bills, which get introduced by legislators favored with ALEC campaign contributions. ALEC, in effect, is a corporate bill mill, and not one that likes labor unions.

Right-to-work states should really be called right-to-work-for-less states. If one looks at the bottom 25 states in terms of median income, 68 percent are right to work. In the top 25, only 28 percent are.

Right-to-work laws are like big boxes of cereal. They look like a great deal at first, but when the boxes are opened, they’re half filled with air.

Yes, union membership is down, but not because of political extremism or clout. It is because corporations found legal ways to kill unions through outsourcing, off-shoring, and bankruptcy declarations.

Mark Wilcox

Bull Valley

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