CEI's Patterson: Right-to-Work Laws Represent 'Common Sense'
These laws allow someone working at a company that's unionized to refrain from joining the union and paying union dues.
"That's just called common sense, that's just called freedom of association," Patterson told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
"Right-to-work laws are very important from a liberty perspective, and they're also very important from an economic growth perspective. Right-to-work states attract a lot of businesses because unions have less power there."
So everyone benefits but unions, which is why they fight the laws so hard, Patterson says.
There's nothing wrong in principle with the idea of someone joining a union in hopes of a pay raise, Patterson says.
"If you're one person and you get a higher wage, then that's obviously good for you, until the union has driven up labor costs for the entire facility to the point where the plant is no longer productive or profitable," Patterson said.
At that point, the plant will close or move, he says. "There was a Volkswagen plant in Pennsylvania back in the 1980s. It operated for about 10 years, and there was a UAW [United Auto Workers union] presence at the plant."
The union led multiple strikes, causing so much trouble that VW shuttered the plant. "And when they closed that plant down, it devastated the community in New Stanton, Penn," Patterson said.
"So 20 years later, when Volkswagen decides to open up a new facility in the United States, no coincidence they chose a southern, right-to-work state [Tennessee], where the UAW did not have a presence."
Now the UAW is trying to organize at that Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The plant makes Passat sedans. The UAW is trying to get in because the plant is very successful, Patterson says.
"It's sort of a nice, shiny morsel for them," he said. "They've basically cannibalized the Detroit auto industry, so for the UAW to continue existing as a viable entity, it needs to organize in southern, foreign-owned plants like the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga."
The UAW has tried to organize at other foreign-owned plants in the south for the last 10 years, but has failed, Patterson says. "Chattanooga is the one foreign-owned plant in the south where they had a good chance of getting in."
Foreign-owned auto companies have opened plants throughout the South, including Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas, because of the absence of unions, Patterson says.
"In other words, they can keep production costs lower because there's no United Auto Workers union to drive up labor costs," he said. "These plants are the source of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly throughout the entire region."