Democrats are the gift that keeps on giving. Or taking away, if it means parting you from your hard-earned money or preventing you from getting a job. But paradoxically, two leading Democratic thinkers now claim we have plenty of jobs. Apparently, they think we could put all Mainers back to work and solve our welfare problems.
The favorite Democratic Party slogan to describe Gov. Paul LePage’s economic initiatives is, “Race to the bottom.” Democrats love slogans so much they all use the same ones in lockstep, over and over.
Both Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and liberal BDN columnist Ethan Strimling used “race to the bottom” last week in radio appearances regarding LePage’s proposed Open for Business zones and their right-to-work component.
In a conversation on WVOM’s “George Hale and Ric Tyler Show” Tyler asked Alfond, “One of the arguments is: Wouldn’t it be better to have right-to-work jobs than have no jobs at all?”
Alfond’s response? “No. It wouldn’t.”
That’s right. Easy for him to say. Alfond, evidently, would rather his desperate job-hunting constituents have no job than a non-union job.
Then a day after Alfond’s pronouncement, Strimling said there are plenty of jobs already. On WGAN’s “Ken and Mike Show,” Strimling said, if “you want a minimum wage job I can find you one, not a problem!”
Yes, apparently Strimling can put every able-bodied welfare recipient in the state of Maine back to work and get them off the dole! And it’s on tape! When do we get cracking on this initiative?
LePage’s Open for Business zones can attract companies and much needed jobs to Maine. The plan acknowledges businesses put their capital at risk to come here. Among other things, it deals with the fact many businesses do not want to come to a state that does not have a right-to-work law.
Unions hate right-to-work. They know that they have become nearly irrelevant except for government employees. Heaven knows they need those hefty dues for all that lobbying they love to do to support Democrats.
But whose interests do unions really protect? Recall Maine’s Twinkie bakery workers. As Hostess declared it would liquidate the company due to, among many other things, union workers who refused to negotiate in good faith, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka declared, “The unified Bakery Workers rejected the last cruel deal from executives…. They chose to raise their heads with pride, as well they should. One way or another, working people in America have to stop this race to the bottom.” Yep, the union came out on top by costing everyone their jobs.
The truth is both workers and companies prosper in right-to-work states. According to Labor Department data, private employment has grown 4.9 percent in right-to-work states over the past three years, versus 3.9 percent in other states. Why? Successful manufacturers want to operate where employees aren’t compelled to join a union or pay fees in lieu of union dues. Working men and women are glad to have those jobs! Freedom works.
Maine’s Republican leadership’s strong push for right-to-work last session was defeated by Democrats. Leading the opposition, Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, explained his party’s rejection of job-friendly legislation by saying, “…we refuse to join a race to the bottom.”
Berry echoed the left’s mantra that the right to work was really the “right to work for less.” How clever.
Well, there are a few problems with this reasoning. Although wages do tend to be negligibly lower in right-to-work states, some economists say when differences in cost of living are taken into account, wages are roughly the same — or even higher — in right-to-work states. Many factors influence what workers are paid in a given locale, making proving cause and effect on wages difficult.
Critically, “Companies will be more seriously inclined to look at a state if it’s right-to-work,” according to Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection. Berry and his Democrat cohorts deliberately put another obstacle in the way of job creation while complaining that we don’t have enough high-paying jobs.
News flash: A job is a job. Right to work is freedom to work and the freedom for workers to decide whether a union is worth the drain on their hard-earned wages. It also means freedom for thousands of welfare recipients who could break the shackles of dependency, supporting themselves with a job.
But Berry, Alfond, and their allies, desperate to protect the unions that support them instead of working people, trash constructive proposals like the governor’s rather than let their fellow Mainers have a crack at those jobs.