How Illinois And Missouri Are Continuing A Bad Trend For The Middle Class
This week, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the Republicans in the Missouri legislature have both shown that they are anti-middle class. Rauner and the Missouri legislature continue an assault on unions that has been particularly potent in the Midwest, to the detriment of workers across the region.
This Midwestern flavor of anti-unionism really took off back in 2005, when former Indiana Governors Mitch Daniels eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, which decimated public unions in Indiana. In 2012, Daniels continued his assault on unions by making Indiana a so-called “right-to-work” state, making it illegal for unions to collect dues from non-members, despite the fact that they negotiate employment conditions for all workers, union or otherwise. While conservatives claim that right-to-work creates more jobs, the evidence suggests that this policy costs the average full-time worker, unionized or not, $1,500 a year in lost wages.
A number of Midwest governors took Mitch Daniels’ example and ran with it. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker eliminated collective bargaining for most public employee unions in 2011, while Ohio Governor John Kasich tried, but failed to do the same in 2011 as well. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder mimicked Daniels’ agenda by making Michigan a right-to-work state in 2013. Both Michigan and Wisconsin saw union membership steeply drop as a result.
Now Governor Rauner and the Missouri legislature want to implement these union-bashing policies into their states. Rauner made headlines last year for supporting eliminating the minimum wage as a member of the 0.1 percent. But now, he has exceeded even those anti-worker by signing an executive order that effectively makes Illinois a right-to-work state for public unions.
Meanwhile, emboldened by the 2014 election, Republicans in Missouri are moving a “paycheck protection” bill through the legislature, which would “require some state workers to provide annual written authorization for union dues to be deducted from their paychecks,” according to the Washington Post. In addition to their attempt to slyly undermine unions, the Republican legislature will also attempt to pass a separate right-to-work bill. Instead of working to create a larger middle class, these Midwestern Republicans continue their attacks against unions, which have done so much to improve working conditions and help build the middle class.
BOTTOM LINE: Unions are incredibly important to creating an economy that works for everyone. These Midwestern Republicans have contributed to trends that weaken and shrink unions, even though research shows that unions and are one of the keys to an inclusive prosperity that decreases inequality and builds up the middle class.
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