A right-to-work bill by any other name would smell as badly
You can tell the legislature is back in session -- the right-to-work editorials/columns are back. Yesterday's News-Register editorial, "Giving Workers Right to Choose," is surprise, surprise in favor of this year's version of right-to-work legislation. This year Republicans have even made it even easier for Ogden newspapers to frame the debate in their editorials/Myer columns -- this year's legislation is called the Workplace Freedom Act. (How could anyone possibly be against workplace freedom?) Of course, yesterday's editorial co-operates:
Some proponents of the bill view it as an economic development measure. It is true that many businesses are more likely to go to states with workplace freedom laws.
But that should not be legislators' primary consideration. They should approve the bill simply to ensure working men and women are treated fairly - not forced to join unions or to fork over part of their hard-earned money to them. The Workplace Freedom Act, then, is the right thing to do for West Virginians.
Notice a couple of things about their conclusion:
the editorial uses "workplace freedom" instead of "right-to-work." In fact, the phrase "right-to-work" does not appear anywhere in editorial. The only reason that I can see for the change is that, like a similar dropping of "war on coal" in favor of "war on affordable electricity," the local editors must think that using "workplace freedom" is even more persuasive than "right-to-work."
despite its assertion, the editorial provides no evidence that businesses prefer right-to-work states over workplace anti-freedom or whatever the opposite is.
the editorial claims that they are really on the side of the workers.
Compare this editorial to yesterday's front-page story in the Gazette-Mail. David Gutman looked at a number of studies that examine the effects that right-to-work legislation has had upon states that have adopted the legislation. Early in the article, Gutman notes something that I would certainly agree with in my limited research of the matter over the past two years:
There are dozens of studies on the effects of right-to-work laws, and they say all sorts of things. They agree with each other, they contradict each other, they talk past each other.
It's his conclusion, supported by a number of studies, that fits nicely with this blog post:
But the one thing that almost every reputable study agrees on is that right-to-work laws are bad for unions. They lower union membership and finances, which, eventually, lessens union bargaining power.
Our local "newspapers" can pretend and argue all they want that what they really care about is the plight of local workers -- their editorials and coverage of unions make it very clear, whether it be the rolling back of mine safety, the rights of teachers, or the prevailing wage, that restricting the power of workers and their unions is the real agenda.
Enhancing a newspaper's credibility
If you follow the Gazette-Mail link to the Gutman article, you might notice something that very clearly demonstrates that the Charleston newspaper is much more serious about being credible to their readership than either of our local "newspapers." What the Gazette-Mail does with newspaper articles in which the newspaper cites other sources is to make sure that its online version of the article has appropriate links to those sources. For example, from the Gutman article:
That study, published in the peer-reviewed Industrial and Labor Relations Review, found that wages in Idaho for non-union workers dropped by 4.2 percent, relative to non-right-to-work states, but found no statistically significant change in Oklahoma.
Like serious bloggers, the Gazette-Mail is saying "this is the source of our information -- if you want to check out the source or simply want more information, here is the link." Other periodicals along with all of the bloggers that I read do the same thing. Contrast that with yesterday's News-Register which states, without a shred of evidence: "It is true that many businesses are more likely to go to states with workplace freedom laws." Of course, providing links takes a little more time and more importantly, you actually need to have a credible source for the link.