The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 12, 2018

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

RTW repeal bills introduced

Five years to the month after the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder made Michigan a right-to-work state, an effort was made to remind people that Michigan... is a right-to-work state.

That will almost certainly be the only result of Senate Bills 0724 and 0725, introduced in mid-December by Senate Minority Leader JimAnanich (D-Flint), Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) and Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren). The bills seek to repeal the state's right-to-work laws governing public and private workers.

"Michigan workers deserve the freedom and liberty to make decisions that suit their career ambitions without government mandating how they can and cannot associate," Ananich said. "They deserve the right to work for more, and that's what this legislation will do."

In a study that focused on the effects of right-to-work laws in the Midwest from 2010 through 2016, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute found that workers in right-to-work states — such as Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin — earned significantly less than people in neighboring Midwestern states that have not enacted right-to-work legislation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, people in states without right-to-work laws make $1,558 more than their counterparts in states that are still operating under the failed right-to-work-for-less legislation. The average hourly wage is also higher, at $23.93, as compared to just $20.66 in states with right-to-work laws.

“Instead of listening to the hardworking citizens of our great state, Republicans took away freedoms from working people by eliminating their ability to band together and fight for higher paychecks,”  Hopgood said. “It’s past time that we restore those freedoms, and their rights.”

The legislation is purely symbolic: Republican lawmakers, who adopted right-to-work in the first place, continue to enjoy solid majorities in the Michigan House and Senate. 

U.S. economy sees good end to 2017

The final federal jobs report for 2017 issued Jan. 5 caps a number of indicators that mostly points to a strong U.S. economy that has, by many measures, just about recovered to the level it was a decade ago, in 2007, just before the onset of the Great Recession.

"As the recovery has strengthened we’ve seen improvements in all measures of employment, unemployment, and wage growth," said Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute. "These measures tell a consistent story—an economy on its way to full employment, but not there yet."

The EPI said U.S. payroll employment growth in December was 148,000, bringing average job growth in 2017 to 171,000. Payroll growth in 2017 was "noticeably slower" than in recent years, EPI said.

The unemployment rate averaged 4.4 percent in 2017, compared to 5.0 percent in December 2007.  But at the peak of the last business cycle, in 2000, unemployment was at 4.0 percent, and dipped below that for several months. 

Year over year wage growth for private employees was 2.5 percent in December - consistent with recent years but still below the 3.5-4.0 percent needed for workers "to begin to reap the benefits of economic growth–and to achieve a genuine recovery," the EPI said.