Pennsylvania, the next right-to-work state?

posted at 12:01 pm on January 25, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Via the WFB, don’t get too excited yet — right-to-work bills have tried and failed repeatedly over the past decade in Pennsylvania, one of the most heavily unionized states in the country — but the Wisconsin-led momentum is definitely on a roll here.

Six GOP lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a proposal to make Pennsylvania, the “Keystone State,” the nation’s 25th right-to-work state. …

“The needs of our economy dictate that it must be adopted at some point in time,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe. “The victory of right-to-work in Michigan and Indiana certainly thrust the spotlight on it and made the General Assembly look it more seriously than the past.” …

The advent of right-to-work in the traditionally labor-friendly Midwest and Rust Belt has left policymakers scrambling to catch up, said Nate Benefield, director of policy analysis at the free-market Commonwealth Foundation.

“Indiana and Michigan are states that we directly compete with,” he said. “We’re going to have to evolve to remain competitive and it’s also a great opportunity for us to outcompete the northeast.” …

“We are sitting on all of these resources—natural gas, shale, connection to the great lakes—but history has shown that we’re not creating enough jobs to keep our young people here; they’re going to right-to-work states to find jobs,” Metcalfe said. “The union status quo attitude has hampered our ability to create jobs.”

Ah, competition — drink it in, it always goes down smooth. The toppling of big labor’s once-thought infallible influence in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana means that those states are now prime real estate for attracting jobs and businesses away from states that still allow employees to be forcefully unionized, and the higher GDPs, more robust economic growth, and better job growth that right-to-work laws encourage is good for all parties in the long run.

As Mary Katharine informed us yesterday, union membership has been on a general decline, and dramatically so in certain areas (isn’t odd how people seem disinclined to do things they don’t want to do, when they’re no longer forced to do so? So weird); if Pennsylvania finally does find themselves forced to step up their game to compete with Michigan and Indiana, then they’ll be the first right-to-work state in the northeast, which may in turn force states with high union membership-to-total workforce ratios like New York and New Jersey to reevaluate their own labor laws. Domino effect, anyone?

During the Michigan right-to-work fight last December, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said that he thinks his state “lacks the political will” to pass similar laws, although he would sign them if they came to his desk. Pennsylvania does indeed have even more unions members than Michigan did, so I’m sure we can expect a similarly ugly showdown if it comes down to it — but the newfound competition from other states might mean that right-to-work legislation carries a lot more weight than it has previously.


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A right-to-work bill will never get through the PA Senate. Too many Philly-area RINOs in bed with the unions.

steebo77 on January 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

A right-to-work bill will never get through the PA Senate. Too many Philly-area RINOs in bed with the unions.

Dare to dream, though, dare to dream.

Pope Linus on January 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

…which may in turn force states with high union membership-to-total workforce ratios like New York and New Jersey to reevaluate their own labor laws.

That was a great joke there, Erika. I actually laughed out loud. Nothing short of a full-blown Martian invasion will force New Jersey to reevaluate its labor law. Any minor event, such as a second coming of Christ or a nuclear strike, will not be sufficient.

Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM

A right-to-work bill will never get through the PA Senate. Too many Philly-area RINOs in bed with the unions.

steebo77 on January 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Put them on record as being against people having a First Amendment-protected right to free association.

CurtZHP on January 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Well I hope PA goes right to work and joins the rest of the prosperous states.

workingclass artist on January 25, 2013 at 12:22 PM

And several states have recently proposed abolishing their income tax. As the finances of NY, CA, IL and others continue to deteriorate, the exodus will accelerate. Last one out, please turn off the lights.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

a bit O/T but Pa. is prominent in it…Gasland will be shown again on Mark Cuban’s AXS network tomorrow at 11am CT. It makes a mockery of Josh Fox’s and Matt Damon’s work to stop fracking.

DanMan on January 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Nothing short of a full-blown Martian invasion will force New Jersey to reevaluate its labor law.
Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I hear Paul Krudoofasman is working on that. However I don’t think he sees that as an outcome. He may be highly disappointed.

LoganSix on January 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

It would be good for business.

Bmore on January 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM

we’re not creating enough jobs to keep our young people here; they’re going to right-to-work states to find jobs

I’m married to a guy who is from PA. Keyword being “from.”

CJ on January 25, 2013 at 12:29 PM

And several states have recently proposed abolishing their income tax. As the finances of NY, CA, IL and others continue to deteriorate, the exodus will accelerate. Last one out, please turn off the lights.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

I just hope the more prosperous states have enough room for the refugees.

The sad part is that a lot of those refugees will be the very low-information leftists that got their own states into that mess in the first place, and they will no doubt bring their stupidity with them. Like a virus.

CurtZHP on January 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Maybe Santorum can show up to lobby against this bill.

Tater Salad on January 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

And several states have recently proposed abolishing their income tax. As the finances of NY, CA, IL and others continue to deteriorate, the exodus will accelerate. Last one out, please turn off the lights.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

You are so wrong. There are hundreds and thousands of creative ways, big and little, in which money from prosperous red state can be funneled to socialist failures. I’ll name just a select few: targeted industry bailouts (think Wall Street ’08), federal deduction of state tax, military spending, national projects, “environmental toll” taxes… Red states will continue getting hosed for as long as the hose is not severed.

Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Of the people i know who have left my state (PA), the liberals have migrated to the mothership – Washington DC. The wealth and jobs are there.

The conservatives have left for places like Kentucky, Texas, and Georgia.

I will admit though, with the natural gas industry booming out here, i still have hope the state can turn it around. Philly is fart country, but the rest of us aren’t so bad.

tflst5 on January 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM

The only thing worse than being Obama’s enemy is to be Obama’s ally.

Minorities, the poor and unions all got royally cornholed under this nitwit’s reign. The rich, Wall Street and big business are all doing quite well.

Go figure.

Chuck Schick on January 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Not to mention the NRA and gun manufacturers.

Chuck Schick on January 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM

I wasn’t talking about federal spending or taxes, but the states relative to one another.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

I wasn’t talking about federal spending or taxes, but the states relative to one another.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

My point was that as long as federal government exists and has its own (usually liberal) priorities, red states and blue states will not compete on equal ground. The higher the prosperity difference, the bigger the federal tilt. That’s how it works. Fairness, y’know…

Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Unions are so 20th century.If a state chooses to live with them let them rot.

docflash on January 25, 2013 at 1:07 PM

My point was that as long as federal government exists and has its own (usually liberal) priorities, red states and blue states will not compete on equal ground. The higher the prosperity difference, the bigger the federal tilt. That’s how it works. Fairness, y’know…

Archivarix on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Then I guess I wasn’t “so wrong”, as you say. At any rate, the federal government can’t just funnel as much as it wants to individual states without the rest of them having a say. Research the bankruptcy of NYC in the 70′s and you’ll see it’s not as easy as you think and comes with a lot of strings.

RadClown on January 25, 2013 at 1:09 PM

a bit O/T but Pa. is prominent in it…Gasland will be shown again on Mark Cuban’s AXS network tomorrow at 11am CT. It makes a mockery of Josh Fox’s and Matt Damon’s work to stop fracking.

DanMan on January 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I think you mean “Fracknation”. Gasland is the Tommyrot original

KW64 on January 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Right to work, Right to starve!

tom daschle concerned on January 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Hit the libs where they live. Anything that can weaken the libs is a good thing. Dry up their money! the libs are trying to turn red states blue, why shouldn’t we try to make blue states red.

Iblis on January 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Do it, please. We need jobs here.

Philly on January 25, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Send Steven Crowder in

koaiko on January 25, 2013 at 2:12 PM

KW64 on January 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

you are corect!!

DanMan on January 25, 2013 at 2:41 PM

We don’t need to go for the whole enchilada at once. The most effective first move would be to have all public entities stop being the collection agency for the public sector unions. All the other reforms will follow as the workers see more in their paychecks and then need to write a check on their own to the unions (lots of them won’t). It will decimate the membership rolls. Starve the beast, so to speak.

There’s no reason at all the states, counties, cities, etc. should be doing the footwork (accounting, withholding) for the unions without compensation.

LooseCannon on January 25, 2013 at 3:33 PM

There’s no reason at all the states, counties, cities, etc. should be doing the footwork (accounting, withholding) for the unions without compensation.

LooseCannon on January 25, 2013 at 3:33 PM

A great place to start.

talkingpoints on January 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM

After the AFL-CIO betrayed the (unionized) coal workers in Pennsylvania – by supporting a president who wants to put the coal fired power plants out of business – Big Labor deserves to get shafted in return.

SubmarineDoc on January 25, 2013 at 9:03 PM

The only thing worse than being Obama’s enemy is to be Obama’s ally.

Minorities, the poor and unions all got royally cornholed under this nitwit’s reign. The rich, Wall Street and big business are all doing quite well.

Go figure.

Chuck Schick on January 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

This point deserves repeating. Again, and again, and again.

SubmarineDoc on January 25, 2013 at 9:17 PM

It would be good for business.

Bmore on January 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Maybe, but does that necessarily mean it’s good for Americans anymore?

There’s definitely a very high suck factor concerning these major unions, but I think “right to work”, though it does redress some of the excesses of politically cozy unions, is a green light to channel more Americans into lower paying jobs.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 25, 2013 at 11:50 PM

There’s definitely a very high suck factor concerning these major unions, but I think “right to work”, though it does redress some of the excesses of politically cozy unions, is a green light to channel more Americans into lower paying jobs.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 25, 2013 at 11:50 PM

It is possible that wages are lower in right to work states but you also need to factor in cost of living as well. Someone earning $40K and living in Omaha will be much better off than a person earning $60K and living in Chicago.

JetBlast on January 26, 2013 at 7:53 AM