Was Right-to-Work-Less Just a Distraction?

We all now know about Right-to-Work-for-less laws in Michigan, thanks to Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the corporate oligarchs. But, believe it or not, Right-to-Work-for-less may not even be the most radical, anti-democratic law that passed in Michigan this week. Late Wednesday, Republicans in the State House passed a new emergency financial managers law, which allows Rick Snyder to take over an entire city, appoint mini-dictators who can fire all the local elected officials, and take the reins of looting that city.

The new law will allow Governor Snyder to break union contracts, slash budgets, and sell off parts of the commons to for-profit corporations. This is a radically anti-democratic law and it’s already been put in place in mostly-minority, cash-strapped cities like Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Pontiac, and Flint. But what’s even more radical, is that just last month on Election Day, voters repealed Snyder’s emergency financial managers law. Voters said, “no way!” and the law was kaput. So in response, and in a huge slap in the face to voters, Republicans just passed the law again.

Governor Snyder claims the law is new-and-improved to address voter concerns. But the incoming Democratic House Minority Leader called the legislation a “mirror image” of the law that was repealed in November. Snyder thinks that by just changing the name of the law, he can send his mini-dictators back into the field, to take over more of Michigan’s cities against the will of the voters. The Republican overreach in Michigan is unprecedented. A movement of organized working men and women must respond and make sure Republicans are never given power again in the Wolverine State.


Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 10 years 14 weeks ago

President Obama and the union movement are missing the boat built from advances in technology and have failed to realize the crushing blow to labor workers that tectonic shifts in the technologies of production has and will continue to exercise.

The labor union movement should transform to a producers’ ownership union movement and embrace and fight for a new economic democracy. They should play the part that they have always aspired to––that is, a better and easier life through participation in the nation’s economic growth and progress. As a result, labor unions will be able to broaden their functions, revitalize their constituency, and reverse their decline.

Unfortunately, at the present time the movement is built on one-factor economics––the labor worker. The insufficiency of labor worker earnings to purchase increasingly capital-produced products and services gave rise to labor laws and labor unions designed to coerce higher and higher prices for the same or reduced labor input. With government assistance, unions have gradually converted productive enterprises in the private and public sectors into welfare institutions. Binary economist Louis Kelso stated: “The myth of the ‘rising productivity’ of labor is used to conceal the increasing productiveness of capital and the decreasing productiveness of labor, and to disguise income redistribution by making it seem morally acceptable.”

Kelso argued that unions “must adopt a sound strategy that conforms to the economic facts of life. If under free-market conditions, 90 percent of the goods and services are produced by capital input, then 90 percent of the earnings of working people must flow to them as wages of their capital and the remainder as wages of their labor work...If there are in reality two ways for people to participate in production and earn income, then tomorrow’s producers’ union must take cognizance of both...The question is only whether the labor union will help lead this movement or, refusing to learn, to change, and to innovate, become irrelevant.”

Unions are the only group of people in the whole world who can demand a real Kelso-designed ESOP, who can demand the right to participate in the expansion of their employer by asserting their constitutional preferential rights to become capital owners, be productive, and succeed. The ESOP can give employees access to credit so that they can purchase the employer’s stock, pay for it in pre-tax dollars out of the assets that underlie that stock, and after the stock is paid for earn and collect the capital worker income from it, and accumulate it in a tax haven until they retire, whereby they continue to be capital workers receiving income from their capital ownership stakes. This is a viable route to individual self-sufficiency needing significantly less or no government redistributive assistance.

The unions should reassess their role of bargaining for more and more income for the same work or less and less work, and embrace a cooperative approach to survival, whereby they redefine “more” income for their workers in terms of the combined wages of labor and capital on the part of the workforce. They should continue to represent the workers as labor workers in all the aspects that are represented today––wages, hours, and working conditions––and, in addition, represent workers as full voting stockowners as capital ownership is built into the workforce. What is needed is leadership to define “more” as two ways to earn income.

If we continue with the past’s unworkable trickle-down economic policies, governments will have to continue to use the coercive power of taxation to redistribute income that is made by people who earn it and give it to those who need it. This results in ever deepening massive debt on local, state, and national government levels, which leads to the citizenry becoming parasites instead of enabling people to become productive in the way that products and services are actually produced.

When labor unions transform to producers’ ownership unions, opportunity will be created for the unions to reach out to all shareholders (stock owners) who are not adequately represented on corporate boards, and eventually all labor workers will want to join an ownership union in order to be effectively represented as an aspiring capital owner. The overall strategy should assure that the labor compensation of the union’s members does not exceed the labor costs of the employer’s competitors, and that capital earnings of its members are built up to a level that optimizes their combined labor-capital worker earnings. A producers’ ownership union would work collaboratively with management to secure financing of advanced technologies and other new capital investments and broaden ownership. This will enable American companies to become more cost-competitive in global markets and to reduce the outsourcing of jobs to workers willing or forced to take lower wages.

Kelso stated, “Working conditions for the labor force have, of course, improved over the years. But the economic quality of life for the majority of Americans has trailed far behind the technical capabilities of the economy to produce creature comforts, and even further behind the desires of consumers to live economically better lives. The missing link is that most of those unproduced goods and services can be produced only through capital, and the people who need them have no opportunity to earn income from capital ownership.”

Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers, expressed his open-mindedness to the goal of democratic worker ownership in his 1967 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress as a strategy for saving manufacturing jobs in America from being outcompeted by Japan and eventual outsourcing to other Asian countries with far lower wage costs: “Profit sharing in the form of stock distributions to workers would help to democratize the ownership of America’s vast corporate wealth, which is today appallingly undemocratic and unhealthy.

“If workers had definite assurance of equitable shares in the profits of the corporations that employ them, they would see less need to seek an equitable balance between their gains and soaring profits through augmented increases in basic wage rates. This would be a desirable result from the standpoint of stabilization policy because profit sharing does not increase costs. Since profits are a residual, after all costs have been met, and since their size is not determinable until after customers have paid the prices charged for the firm’s products, profit sharing [through wider share ownership] cannot be said to have any inflationary impact on costs and prices.”

Unfortunately for democratic unionism, the United Auto Workers, American manufacturing workers, and American citizens generally, Reuther was killed in an airplane crash in 1970 before his idea was implemented. Leonard Woodcock, his successor, never followed through.

Now is critical that the President lead the way and that new labor movement leaders emerge to create an OWNERSHIP CULTURE.

Support the Capital Homestead Act at http://www.cesj.org/homestead/index.htm and http://www.cesj.org/homestead/summary-cha.htm

Also please see my article published by The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-reber/who-should-own-america_b_2040592.html

Sign the Petition at http://signon.org/sign/reform-the-federal-reserve.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=3904687

Sign the WhiteHouse.gov petition at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reform-federal-reserve/PhY3Jswk

Also follow the Center for Economic and Social Justice at www.cesj.org and http://capitalhomestead.org/

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 14 weeks ago

They're passing every possible crazy measure in the lame duck session. The emergency manager law can't be constitutional and should be challenged on some separation of powers basis. After all, we are not some centralized monolith like the Soviet Union. People have an inalienable right to their own elected local officials.

Rick Snyder needs to be told he can't play czar. This reminds me of what my friend who was a defector from Eastern Europe in the '80s said, "Here in United States you have privat diktatur.", i.e., here in the U.S. we have private dictatorship.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 14 weeks ago

This is reply to #1.

I think there are some basic truths to what you say here. As a Libertarian Socialist (which usually means Anarchist or Syndicallist but doesn't necessarilly in my case; I'll go with whatever works to produce the results of freedom, equality and justice) I believe that what is needed is not a redistribution of wealth but a redistribution of power. If the power is redistributed the wealth will redistribute itself. What the Soviets, the Leninists, did was try to redistribute the wealth keeping the power with a small, centralized elite. What resulted was that the wealth didn't get redistributed all that well either. The small minority of Communist Party members lived much better than everyone else and were much more privileged and rarely tried to defect to the West.

Much of the union movement in the U.S. initially had the goal of gaining ownership of the means of production for the workers. The mobbing up and other corruptions of the unions, the McCarthy Era purges and, more importantly, the intentional dedemocratization of unions by the government, forcing them to go through the NLRB has made unions often into bogus or, at best, weak institutions in which the union officials exploit the rank and file pimping them and selling them out.

Actually, it might produce a better result to simply redemocratize the unions as there then would be a collectivity and a collective ownership rather than making everyone an individual stockholder.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 14 weeks ago

Maybe the Governer is just doing all this because the state is going broke. What else is he supposed to do.

megalomaniac's picture
megalomaniac 10 years 14 weeks ago

Drill baby, Drill, or is America going out of business? Depends on what we drill for! Let’s drill for intelligent education; the Internet can be combined into new age refineries.

The Michigan legislation, politically slant drilling, seems to be just a centuries old “Edict”. The Michigan legislation the Right-to-Work-for-less laws in Michigan is likely and simply a political schism. Screw the citizen, tyranny at its best. Leadership without constitutional respect is wide open in your face book unregenerate conservatism. The Michigan leadership is the finest in lost spirituality yet banners missions accomplished for the religious right.

It is unfortunate our young people see and despise this woeful and obstinately wrong political agenda in a metaphysical way by taking actions with fatal random deeds, personally martyr themselves as in the now Connecticut massacre. From my point of view the young are sending a message. Whether we think the young are insane or not, the message is vectored not well. As once was the Kent state massacre.

My personal message to the young men; please endure this leadership it will change. That which is animal therefore does not perceive the things that are of God cf. 1 Cor 2:14.

Ladies and Gentlemen of America my view is simple and somewhat derived through the notion of an Eisenhower Republican though being an Independent my thoughts are with Ike, that military industrial complex warning haunts me. More over the CIA secret assassinations America keeps secret for tens of decades at one end to now the increasing frequency of indigenous young in fatal combat with the current system at our other end. It is as though America appears to be caught in a resonant cavity reflected political standing wave of corruption driven by military profiteering. Both political parties engulfed knowing exposure will end in a horrible criminal embarrassment mess. Likely the only way out.

Or, now being bombarded with the ultimate capitalism, the Binary economy needs to be talked about. Making sure this is not just Cyber punk mathematics. We need to debate, is Binary economics o.k. or an Aesop's Fable the sophist line of Baines capital Ying Yang Canary cage money laundering. The new advanced form of “Ferengi” buy out?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

Kend- Bug off. Go mind your own back yard. You contribute nothing of value to this conversation, and this isn't your country anyway.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 14 weeks ago

Can't you build on the talking points just a little, just to make it sound good? What does this have at all to do with the state going broke?

Global's picture
Global 10 years 14 weeks ago

Ken, that common sense stuff don't work around here, you got to dig deep and radical. Does Michigan have an employment problem? I mean unemployment problem. Are property values and property tax collections taking a hit? I think they should just stay the course and get in line for an Obama bailout.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 14 weeks ago

You the ones need common sense. Austerity, cutbacks and low wages only hurt an economy more. You gotta invest in it not take money out.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 14 weeks ago

"America appears to be caught in a resonant cavity reflected political standing wave of corruption driven by military profiteering."

Snap, crackle and pop!

ken ware's picture
ken ware 10 years 14 weeks ago

Kend and Global - The main objective of Gov. Snyder is to privative as much of the state as possible to generate profits for the Corporations that are waiting to swoop down and turn all the commons into private businesses run by the Corporations that fund the re-election of conservative Republican politicians. The Koch brothers and billionaires like them are just waiting to gain control and turn the workers into drones for profits. A perfect example is how the states have privatized prisons and halfway houses so as to have complete control of the revolving door in our nation for greater profits. First they gain control of the prisons and make sure there is no rehabilitation of the prisoners and once released they serve a mandatory length of time in the privatized halfway houses (which make hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal funds) and make sure the paroles receive little if any assistance in rebuilding their lives, release them into society and wait until they fail and resume a life of crime. The corporations have a revolving population that is again housed in privatized prisons and the cycle begins again. Of course being conservatives that feel the cuts in prison funding has no real effect on society and the prisoners do not deserve any rehabilitation, your views are part of the problem.

Gary Riber & Mark S., your theory basically has one big flaw. The corporations and major companies are not going to allow ownership or partnership of the workers and therefore your theory that the Unions should push for more ownership of the companies simply does not apply in our present society. How would you propose unions and workers gain a greater stake in the workplace and share the profits of their work, when it is evident ownership would mean having access to major funds or funding by the banks? The banks are part of the power structure that works together with the corporations to keep wages stagnate. You think the Union and workers should take charge of the workplace and determine their own fate and income through the profits generated by their work. Just how would you generate the capital needed to fund such an endeavor on a scale needed to provide a successful outcome. We have seen that most companies and corporations favor bankruptcy over sharing the profits with the workers that are represented by the Unions. Partnership of the employees through representation of the workers has worked in places like Germany, but the mindset of the corporations and companies is completely different here in America. If we had a history of such corporation of management and labor from the beginning it might have a chance of working. But look around you in the real America and you will see it has been a battle between labor and management from the inception of Unions in America. We cannot even get a consensus on health insurance for the workers and citizens because it is blocked by all the small and large businesses across America, based on the greed and need for greater profits for the owners and shareholders. The only chance American workers have of obtaining a livable standard of living in America is through the Unions and the threat of disruption of profits for the small and large businesses and corporations. And the idea that a form of socialism is feasible for the American workplace is nothing more than a theory of hope and has been crushed by management from the beginning of the unionization of the workforce. Not only that, most production has been moved offshore for greater profit through lower costs of labor. And I highly doubt there will be any move to bring production back to the shores of America. And, we have heard over and over again how we have to embrace new technology and adapt to the new age. Problem is there are just not enough jobs generated by new technology to sustain a growing workforce, even with training of new and existing workers. Basically your theories are great on paper but will not work in the real world. Management and our government encourage cheap illegal workers to migrate to this country for greater profits for the companies and corporations that hire them. What jobs are left are being outsourced to countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, not just China. And corporations are bringing in white collar workers from places like India to boost the profit margin of the corporations. Basically the time of the American worker has passed due to the laws passed by Washington such as the free trade agreements at the request of the corporations. The corporations are only concerned with immediate profits not realizing the American consumers will eventually run out of credit and savings to purchase these goods that are made outside of the U.S. and they will see their profits disappear due to their own greed.

sinsibility's picture
sinsibility 10 years 14 weeks ago

Profiteering,synonym for capitalism! I am all for turning the volume down on military profiteering. I heard people I know saying they were voting for Romney because he would increase defense spending. They all work for one of the big defense contractors in my area, and want to keep their good paying jobs.

The lesson I take from this is good paying jobs need to come from industries that support increasing the quality of life here in this land as opposed to decreasing the quality of life anywhere, or ever. They don't seem to extrapolate this thinking to it's inevitable result, that we forever exist in a state of perpetual war.

How about some "right to earn" legislation, some "CEO pay to worker pay ratio laws", some laws that say if your employees need government programs to afford food and housing, you will be taxed at a level that takes into account the added burden your "jobs" put on the system.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

Right on Sinsibilitty! You rock.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 14 weeks ago

"go mind my own back yard" this comming from a country that has a military base in almost every country in the world. 75% of all business up here is owned by American companies. 70 % of Canadas exports go to the US so we have to pay attenion to whats going on. I have some property down here as well so it scares me a little when cites and states are in so much trouble.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

Kend- your point is well taken. However I am not the U.S. government; I'm just one little citizen here. I don't make the kinds of decisions that lead to things like U.S. military bases stationed all around the world. I can assure you, this has never been a situation I have approved of. It does not please me to know my tax money is helping support these operations. In fact, it makes me ill. In my lifetime I have watched this country morph into something more akin to an empire, pushing its weight around the world stage like a big fat bully... with my money and in my name!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

Under corporate control, the U.S. Government has become the biggest terrorist organization in the world. Their impact on world stability, or lack thereof, is probably the greatest obstacle to achieving world peace and has been so for decades. It angers & grieves me no end, and fills my heart with shame. Like many fellow Americans who share this view, I've come to realize that our government really doesn't give a flip what we think or feel about any of it. They're bought & paid for by the Oligarchs and THAT'S who's got their attention. Essentially, what we've had here is taxation without representation. You need only take a good look at who's picking up the tab, and how that tax revenue gets distributed, to see who the REAL welfare recipients are in this country... and I can assure you, they ain't on food stamps.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

Anyway Kend, I apologize for being rude. It's just that you sound so much like these ignoramous Americans who watch FOX so-called "news" all the the time, who only THINK they know what's going on... I get so sick of hearing it day after day. I've had my fill of their fear mongering, you're-on-your-own, I've-got-mine-and-screw-you Ayn Rand screed, relentlessly broadcast everywhere it seems, poisoning the air we breathe with these divisive, toxic messages. I tell you, it is mind numbing, soul-sucking crap. So when someone like you from another country (Canada or WHEREVER) joins that chorus, I'm like, ENOUGH ALREADY! - Aliceinwonderland

No Fraud's picture
No Fraud 10 years 14 weeks ago

I share your frustration and aggravation.
Even though Kend makes an embarrasingly true point about the U.S. Government/Military occupying the world, I am happy to share that the people I have come to know who live in other countrues (Australia, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Finland, and Canada), are more disgusted by our commercial brand of lies and half truths that we call news, and find it completely silly that we - "The great U.S.A." - do not have a Universal Healthcare System, Better Funded Education System, and a Liveable work wage.
I actually enjoyed their views and comments - regarding our last election - as being supportive of the middle class and our struggle to regain a strong workforce.

Both my brother and sister have dual citizenship. They were both born here in the U.S. but have lived in Australia for 39 plus years. Once I asked them why they never move back to the U.S...Their reply was that they don't find the American culture to be all that great. They've both spent time here through the years; usually 4 to 6 weeks at a time - gotta love the way Australians live life - but they never were impressed by just how homaginized, phobic, and overly commercialized we as a nation are.
Of course other countries have their social issues, but even conservative Germany understands the need to maintain a strong wellfare system for those less fortunate. And Portugal...They resolved much of their drug related street crime by legalizing drugs...Go figure. Instead of banging their head up against a wall and wasting billions of dollars a year maintaining a war on drugs they view it as a health issue, and the money they propagated from this approach goes towards well resourced rehabilatation programs for those who seek help, and those that don't either are healthy "users" or natural selection takes care of the abusers; either way no one goes to jail for purchase, possetion, or using.

What I struggle to understand is why do companies that employ thousands or millions of people have a problem with taking good care of their employees. Example; Wal mart is the largest employer in the world, yet thay have more employees on wellfare than the next 3 largest companies combine. The average wage for a full time Wal Mart employee is less than $10.00 an hour. However the Wal Mart Empire is worth HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLAR$$$$$$! Yet unless you are in upper managment, or in Future Development and Opperations, your wages are not liveable.
Am I just a foollish sucker to ask the question; Why won't these multi-billion dollar companies take good care of their hard and honest working employees that enable them to be successfull and live such lavish and luxurious life styles? Is it to much to ask the guy with 4 homes, a Lear Jet, 2 Benzes, a Bently and a Mazaradi for a liveable wage (one beyond just the inflation rate)?

Call me crazy but if I were a ultra conservative uber rich buisness owner who was anti-union, anti-welfare state, etc. I would thank my employees by paying them a wage that would enable them to be independent and I would offer them healthcare, and stock options. To me that's more than just good buisness; that's being greatful to those that make it possable to live in the lap of luxury.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 14 weeks ago

No Fraud- I am so envious of people like your siblings, who enjoy duel citizenship in other countries more civilized than ours; countries where no one becomes bankrupted by illness or injury! How I wish we were among that group. And I share your sibs' assessment of American culture.

I am a big fan of Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films. They've released a great documentary: "Wal Mart; The high cost of low price". Another masterpiece of theirs targets Fox "news", titled "Outfoxed". I highly recommend them both. - Alive I.W.

No Fraud's picture
No Fraud 10 years 14 weeks ago

I too am fortunate, having lived in Austrailia for 3 years and a few other countries, along with my travels while in the Army (which were not as glorious).
Anyone with a curious mind and heart that takes the time to travel and live in other countries will discover just how connected we ALL are regardless of language, politics and religious views.

Read Thich Naht Hanh "Walking Buddah Walking Christ". For me it answered alot of questions about how we - as a collective - are on the same course, we all struggle and suffer, and we all want peace and happiness.

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