2012 has been a big year for right-to-work – that is, Americans’ right to seek employment without being forced to pay tribute to a labor union.
In the past year, neighboring Indiana has adopted right-to-work legislation while Wisconsin ended collective bargaining for public workers. Most recently, even Michigan, the autoworker union capital of the world, embraced Americans’ right to work.
So what does this mean for Kentucky, a forced-union state that’s surrounded by right-to-work laws to both the north and south? It means that some of the state’s largest union bosses are going to have to squeeze dues out their members all the harder to stay in power.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the peak levels of 1989, the percentage of Kentucky workers who belong to a union has steadily fallen from 14.8% to 8.9%, which is below the national average of 11.9%. The most powerful unions in the commonwealth are the usual suspects: companies like Ford and GE are union hot beds, and how could we forget to mention the teachers unions.
But one surprising find is that Toyota, whose Georgetown, KY car manufacturing plant required no federal bailout during the recent banking crisis, is a non-union establishment. Despite union leaders campaigning just outside Toyota’s fences for years, Toyota’s workers are apparently too content to establish forced unionization in Georgetown.
The Georgetown plant is the antithesis to what brought down the “Big Three” automakers in Michigan – bloated unions and shady perks that proved economically disastrous for the entire state.
If workers believe in a certain union, then fine. They should be allowed to enter into a voluntary contract with that union and enjoy all the costs and benefits that ensue.
But if a worker does not believe that joining a specific union is in his or her best interest, the worker should still be able to seek employment without being forced through the use or threat of violence to pay costly dues to that organization.
Respect for individual liberty demands the right-to-work.