Unions playing defense now
The just concluded election does not bode well for Big Labor, and a recent unanimous Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision may be even worse.
With the election of Republican governors and legislators, the odds are good that three additional states will join the right-to-work ranks in the coming year. They are Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire.
Then there's the election of Donald Trump. From this seismic event, the composition of the National Labor Relations Board will change from its current lopsided pro-labor tilt to one that is significantly more fair and balanced. And of course, those whom Trump will likely nominate to the bench will not be lapdogs for the unions as Hillary Clinton's appointees surely would have been.
In addition to 2016 election, there is even more bad news for Big Labor.
On November 18, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in the United Auto Workers v. Hardin County that local governments can decide whether or not to implements right-to-work laws.
In coming to this unanimous decision, the Sixth Circuit Court used precedents from the U.S. Supreme Court that hold the term "state" in federal law includes a state's political subdivisions unless Congress expressly specifies otherwise. Since the National Labor Relation Act does not exclude localities, the irrefutable logic is that local government units can pass RTW legislation if the state law has granted or not restricted sufficient home-rule power.
The Sixth Circuit Court covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Providing that they do not conflict with their respective state laws, local government entities like cities, towns, counties, and even school districts in these states can outlaw compulsory unionization in both the private and public sectors.
This is important. In spite of having a Republican governor (John Kasich) and overwhelming Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature, Ohio is one of the Rust Belt states dragging its feet on passing right-to-work legislation. Now, thanks to the United Auto Workers v. Hardin County ruling, cities and counties there can pass this form of worker protection on their own. If this starts to happen, it could well spur Ohio to pass statewide RTW.
This type of local initiative is taking root even in deep blue Illinois, home of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, high unemployment, and huge unfunded public pension plans.
The town of Lincolnshire, Ill., passed a local RTW ordinance in 2016, which the unions are currently challenging in court. If the Seventh District Court, which covers Illinois, rules against the unions, then local Illinois governmental entities can pass RTW. If the Seventh Court disagrees, the matter will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could have the Trump stamp on it by the time the case reaches it.
The benefits of right-to-work are real. As the news of the legality of local RTW initiatives filters through the country, they can become contagious. Local right-to-work ordinances are an idea whose time has come, at least until such legislation can be enacted nationally.
Search far and wide, everywhere you look, from the federal level to the states, Big Labor, the piggy bank of the Democratic Party, is on the defensive. This is good for workers, it's good for the economy, and it is good for America.