Unions weep: After becoming RTW state, Michigan incomes rise

Hey, do you remember when Michigan shocked the nation and became a right to work state in 2012? That was supposed to usher in the end of the world, at least in the view of union leaders and their Democrat water carriers. As Thomas Lifson reminds us at The American Thinker, the predictions were nigh on to apocalyptic.

“There will be blood, there will be repercussions,” State Democratic Rep. Douglas Geiss, speaking on the House floor on Tuesday, warned ahead of the votes.

And of course, there were predictions of disaster for the “little guy” as ruthless bosses would exploit the defenseless workers.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said that right-to-work legislation would lower employee wages.

Those poor, poor Michigan workers. One can only imagine how they must be struggling two years later after the nasty, wingnut conservatives threw them to the corporate wolves. So… how’s that working out?

Michigan’s per-capita personal income increased from $38,291 in 2012 (before right-to-work became law) to $39,215 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That increase was the ninth highest in the country. (snip)

“The dire predictions of right-to-work detractors have not come true — Michigan has been a leader in income growth since passage,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

A study released this week by Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University and an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute as well as with the Mackinac Center, found that “incomes rise following the passage of RTW laws, even after adjusting for substantial population growth that those laws also induce. RTW states tend to be vibrant and growing; non-RTW states tend to be stagnant and aging.”

I agree with Lifson that this isn’t a straight forward, apples to apples comparison. In an open, capitalist system there are a wide variety of factors which go into determining wages. These can include outside factors beyond the control of both industry and the state government, particularly in an interconnected, global marketplace. The study estimates that average wages might be $3K per year higher today had the unions not had their thumb on the scale, but that figure may be off a bit, either higher or lower. But overall, the trend still tends to bend in one direction or the other, and in Michigan’s case the trend is toward more competition and higher wages.

But the workers (and the voters) should be able to take one central theme from this information and other states can take notice of it. The unions have been taking a piece of their wages for decades – sometimes against their will – and applying it to political campaign coffers and advertising campaigns rather than spending it to better the working conditions and lives of the workers. And in exchange for this pound of flesh they received… less pay.

Go forth and prosper.