“This is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement. Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. I am here to say they are wrong. I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them.”—President Obama speaking in Osawatomie, Kansas today
“Think about this: The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together. The 6 Walmart heirs have more wealth than bottom 33 million American families combined. So why are we even contemplating cutting programs the middle class and poor depend on, and raising their taxes? We should tax the vast accumulations of wealth now in the hands of a relative few.”—Robert Reich: How To Avoid Raising Taxes on the Middle Class or Cutting Programs the Middle and Poor Depend On | NationofChange
The average worker—unionized or not— working in a right-to-work state earns approximately $1,500 less per year than a similar worker in a state without such a law
Unions strengthen businesses and the economically vital middle class by giving workers a voice in both the workplace and our democracy. Unions do this by pushing for fair wages and good benefits, and also by encouraging citizens to advocate for middle-class-friendly policies like a strong Social Security system and family-leave benefits.
In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, strengthening unions is as important to the middle class as boosting college-graduation rates. Similarly, sociologists Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld of Harvard University and the University of Washington, respectively, have calculated that approximately one-third of the increase in male wage inequality from 1973 to 2007 was due to decreasing unionization—about the same amount they ascribed to the increasing payoff of a college education.
Not surprisingly, right-to-work laws have a negative impact on the middle class. The average worker—unionized or not— working in a right-to-work state earns approximately $1,500 less per year than a similar worker in a state without such a law. Workers in right-to-work states are also significantly less likely to receive employer-provided health insurance and pensions. If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide. And unions tend to especially make large income differences for communities of color in the United States.
All of the states with the lowest percentage of workers in unions—Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Oklahoma—are right-to-work states and they all have a relatively weak middle class, with the share of total state income going to the middle 60 percent of the population below the national average.
Over the past several decades, unions in Michigan have weakened and the middle class has been hollowed out—a trend that would significantly worsen if right-to-work became law. As we see in the data, as union membership has declined in the United States, so too has the share of income going to America’s middle class. (see Figure 1). In 2011 the middle class received the smallest share of the nation’s income since these data were first reported, according to U.S. Census Bureau, with the middle 60 percent of households receiving only 45.7 percent of the nation’s income that year, down from the historical peak of 53.2 percent in 1968. Since 1968 the share of households in unions has declined from nearly 30 percent to less than 12 percent today.
A strong union presence in any area drives wages up. Non union business have to offer wages that are comparable to union wages (and benefits) in order to compete for workers.
So, of course big business and by extension the GOP hate unions.