New Hampshire, Missouri, South Carolina Next States Attacking Unions

It's been clear since Wisconsin that the big fights unions are battling against conservative and corporate forces for rights that make up the very fabric of this country will occur at the state level. In two of the latest cases, new bills introduced in New Hampshire and Missouri threaten to put those states at the forefront of the attack on labor. In these cases, state Republicans are trying to expand right-to-work laws, which allow private workers to opt out of joining unions, weakening the collective influence and bargaining power of all workers. So far, 18 states in total are trying to put right-to-work laws on the books. And, as the WSJ puts it, 'the laws generally are backed by business groups and Republicans, opposed by Democrats and denounced by labor.' Yup. Oh, and there's that whole 2012 thing, and we're not talking about the Mayan Apocalypse:

The goal of right-to-work measures is to "weaken the labor movement in key states around the country," said Mark MacKenzie, president of the AFL-CIO's state federation in New Hampshire. "If you look at the map, it has nothing to do with protecting workers rights but taking over key areas of the country" for the 2012 presidential election.

Right-to-work laws were set by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. They have largely been enacted by states on the Great Plains and in the South. Those states, including Texas and North Carolina, tend to have the lowest unionization rates.

Meanwhile, over in South Carolina, a fight is brewing over Boeing's attempt to build a new plant and manufacture a line of 787s using nonunion labor. Talking Points Memo:

The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint earlier this month looking to halt operation of the new plant after members of the International Association of Machinists at Boeing's Washington state production line claimed the decision to expand outside the state was retaliation for previous strikes. The NLRB is demanding that Boeing open a second production line in labor-friendly Washington state.

Boeing responded that because the corporation is not closing its Puget Sound plant, the retaliation claims are "legally frivolous." Boeing recently issued a further statement claiming it would have opened its South Carolina line regardless of labor conditions in Washington state. The case will come before an administrative law judge in June and Boeing can appeal that decision in federal court if it doesn't go its way.

South Carolina Republicans are invoking their own state's right to work laws, and argue that such an action will threaten their anti-union stance. 'The argument goes,' writes TPM, 'that if setting up shop in an anti-union state counts as punitive action against workers in pro-union states, then the same complaint could be applied almost anywhere.'

One can only hope. Read the rest here.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at May 9, 2011, 6:35am

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