I usually prepare more questions than I need for Face the State, and such was the case for this Sunday’s broadcast. Our guests this weekend are Senate president Don Williams and Senate minority leader John McKinney, and we planned on talking about the new Sandy Hook task force, and other legislative issues.
Senator Williams was talking about how Connecticut has lost manufacturing jobs, so I decided to dip into those reserve questions and ask the senators about the new situation in Michigan, aimed at stemming that state’s loss of manufacturing jobs. In December, Michigan became a “right to work” state. Connecticut is not one of those states.
I’m simplifying things here, but basically here is what it means. A “right to work” state gives the employee the right to decide whether to join a union, a law practiced in roughly half of the states in the country. In Connecticut, and non “right to work” states, you must join a union, if the company where you work has one. I belong to a union here at WFSB (AFTRA-SAG,) and when I was hired, I was told my employment was contingent on joining the union and paying the dues.
Some companies don’t like that, and the argument is that many would rather set up shop in a “right to work” state. That was the crux of the discussion in heavily unionized Michigan, whose landscape is scarred by shuttered factories and vacant city blocks. Michigan’s governor and legislative leaders felt going “right to work” was worth a try. There were rallies, protests, and an ad campaign against the move, but it passed.
Could this scene in Lansing ever play out in Hartford?
So could Connecticut, whose unemployment rate rivals Michigan’s, give it a try? That’s what I asked Senators Williams and McKinney. As you might imagine, the answers fell along party lines. Williams said “certainly not.” McKinney is open to talking about it. “I would love to have that public hearing in the legislature and have a vote on it, but the chairman of the labor committee wouldn’t allow it,” McKinney said. Williams responded by saying “there wouldn’t be support for it.”
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal in December, “right to work” states tend to have better job growth, but the wages can be lower.
You can watch the entire discussion with Williams and McKinney as we talk about Newtown, guns, taxes, the economy, legislator pay and much more right here:
part 1, guns, Newtown, school safety: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8212038
part 2, right to work, the economy, legislative pay: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8212041
* Right to work states are in dark blue
About the author: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/marking-20-years-at-wfsb/