Yesterday, the President of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO, released a statement concerning Michigan’s anti-democratic ramming through of a “Right-to-Work” law. He labels those who forced its passage “extremists,” laments the drawbacks of such laws including take home pay that “lags far behind other workers in other states,” and highlights how vital it is, regardless of a state’s approach to collective bargaining, that a union and its members provide value and innovate. Read the full statement below.
WASHINGTON, DC — The following statement was released today by Sean McGarvey, President of the Building and Construction Trades, upon the enactment of a “Right-to-Work” law in Michigan:
“Through the enactment of a so called ‘right to work’ law in Michigan, right-wing extremists have accelerated the growing inequality between profits and wages that is the core of America’s economic malaise. Stripping away the rhetoric, we are confronted with the very real essence of this fight; namely, that this is nothing more than a concerted attack on workers and their representatives. The supporters of this law continue to promote the widely discredited and politically motivated theory that so called ‘right-to-work’ statutes are integral for economic growth. However, study after study has shown that states that have enacted such laws have reported no real increase in business start ups or job creation. We also know that benefits and take home pay for workers in states that have enacted such laws lag far behind other workers in other states.
Our unions and our signatory contractor partners jointly invest nearly one billion dollars annually in skilled craft workforce development. Our national infrastructure of apprenticeship training, which is widely acclaimed to be one of the greatest and impactful educational systems in our nation, is privately financed and not reliant on taxpayers. And through this system, we are not only meeting the real world needs of our members, contractors and customers, we are also creating the pathways in the skilled trades for our nation’s historically disadvantaged communities which will provide them with skill sets not only for jobs, but for middle class family and community sustaining careers. The same forces that deride ‘dependence’ and seek to undermine the ‘social safety net’ simultaneously attack the very avenues that workers can pursue to avoid such dependence. This can, and has, only historically been achieved through the lawful right to organize and bargain collectively. Our customers and contractor partners intuitively understand that their success depends upon our ability to produce the safest, most highly trained and productive workforce found anywhere in the world; and that sound, innovative business practices can, and should be, achieved through collaboration, cooperation and, yes, collective bargaining.
While well financed, outside forces were clearly at play in Michigan, we do believe that the labor movement must look inward and always seek to stay current in providing value to their members and the customers that they serve. As we welcome that important internal examination of priorities and tactics, we will continue to lead by example while simultaneously opposing transparent power grabs that are promoted by a minority of extremists that seek nothing more than political retribution and the further concentration of wealth among the privileged few.”