Guest view of Stacy Swimp: Right to work works for Black Americans
By Stacy Swimp
In response to Michigan’s stunning enactment of a state right-to-work law which prohibits the firing of employees for refusal to pay union dues or fees, diehard proponents of compulsory unionism are now mounting a desperate bid to sow racial division over such legislation.
But the facts tell another story. Unfortunately for union propagandists, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that Americans of all races are “voting with their feet” in vast numbers against compulsory unionism. This is actually true to an even greater degree of black Americans.
From 2000 to 2010, the black population of the U.S. increased by 12.3 percent, or 4.27 million. But 70 percent of the overall increase occurred in the 22 states that had right to work laws on the books at the time, even though slightly fewer than half of all black Americans resided in them in 2000. (Since Indiana and Michigan became the 23rd and 24th right-to-work states in 2012, they are counted as forced-unionism states in this analysis.)
In other words, from 2000 to 2010 right-to-work states’ black population increased by 17.4 percent, well over double the 7.6 percent increase for forced-unionism states as a group. The 9.8 percentage point advantage in black population growth in right-to-work states even outpaced the 9.0 percentage point edge right-to-work states registered in white population growth.
And it’s no wonder: When 2011 disposable personal income (personal income minus taxes) data, as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), is adjusted for differences in living costs, the disposable income per capita for right-to-work states in 2011 was more than $36,800, roughly $2,200 higher than the average for forced-unionism states. Meanwhile, total private-sector employment in right-to-work states went up by 10.3 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared to a gain of just 1.9 percent for the non-right-to-work states.
In a column published shortly after the 2010 Census data became available, economist and political observer Thomas Sowell noted that a disproportionately large share of the black Americans moving out of forced-unionism stronghold states like Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York and New Jersey are in their career-building years and have a lot of earning potential.
Ironically, three years after Congress adopted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Yale law professor Ralph Winter bemoaned the fact that “the political power of unions had delayed and impeded antidiscrimination efforts, rooted in the conflict of interest between union members and black competitors.”
It is deeply cynical for proponents of forced unionism to pose as advocates of racial nondiscrimination and harmony. Even today, compulsory unionism continues to impede black Americans’ ability to advance economically.
Big Labor apologists who are now trying to play the race card against right-to-work laws need to answer one simple question: If forced unionism is so good for black Americans, why are they fleeing in droves from the states where this exploitative system is still in place?
Stacy Swimp lives in Flint, and is president of the Frederick Douglass Society – a nonpartisan public policy and educational institution that advocates for the freedom of all Americans to work and learn. He is also an alumnus of the Great Lakes Bay Region African-American Leadership Training Institute and of the Henry Marsh Institute of Public Policy. Guest view of Stacy Swimp: Right to work works for Black Americans | MLive.com.