Hillary Rodham Clinton shed her usual sunny demeanor on Monday and snarled at Republicans in general and one presidential candidate in particular.
“Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights
, and practically all Republican candidates would do the same as president,” Clinton growled at Manhattan’s New School. “I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks. Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So, if we want to get serious about raising income, we have to get serious about supporting union workers.”
Later that day, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka snapped, “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”
Liberals like Clinton and Trumka have it all wrong. Workers have been waxing, not waning, under Walker. And they can thank his free-market reforms for improving their lives.
If there’s one thing workers value, it’s work. And on this score, Wisconsin’s Republican governor has delivered.
The Badger State’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.4 percent in January 2011 (the month of Walker’s inauguration) to 4.6 percent in May 2015 (the latest available figure). U.S. joblessness dropped from 9.0 percent to 5.5 percent over that period. Wisconsin’s unemployment, thus, stands well below America’s.
May’s labor-force participation rate also was higher in Wisconsin (67.9 percent) than across America (62.9 percent). These figures are down in both places, compared to when Walker arrived. In January 2011, 69.1 percent of working-age Wisconsinites held jobs, versus 64.2 percent of Americans. This key metric has slipped 1.7 percent in Wisconsin, but has slid 2.0 percent nationwide.
Concerning ready cash, workers are faring significantly better under Walker than Obama. According to the latest Census statistics, Wisconsin’s inflation-adjusted, median household income grew 2.7 percent, from $53,795 in 2010 to $55,258 in 2013. During those years, America’s equivalent household income shrank 1.3 percent, from $52,646 to $51,939. Indeed, under Walker, workers’ paychecks swelled by double what they shriveled under Obama.
In terms of “workers’ rights,” Wisconsinites now enjoy the right to work. In March, Walker signed a bill passed by the Republican-led legislature. This new law recognizes a woman’s right to choose whether or not to join a union
. (This statute applies to men, too.)
Wisconsinites no longer may be compelled to join unions as a condition of employment. Clinton and Trumka are anti-choice on union membership. Wisconsin’s government also stopped forcibly withholding union dues from the wages of its public employees. Labor bosses now must ask these workers for those sums, rather than snatch them even before public servants see them in their paychecks.
Ironically, Wisconsin’s new status as a right-to-work state may benefit unions as well as workers. “Not only are right-to-work laws associated with higher economic growth, but union membership actually has increased faster over the past decade in right-to-work states than in forced-unionization states,” explains Jared Meyer, a labor economist, a fellow with the Manhattan Institute, and a source for many of the data presented here.
“The reason for this counterintuitive result is that, for too long, union bosses increasingly have focused on playing politics rather than meeting their members’ needs. In right-to-work states, unions actually have to provide value
to their members, since workers are free to leave unions, if they feel that the dues taken out of their hard-earned paychecks are being wasted. Whenever unions have to compete in the market rather than in state capitol buildings, it is a win for both the economy and workers.”
Rather than hammer Scott Walker, Hillary Clinton should heed her own campaign spokeswoman. According to Karen Finney, the American worker’s real enemy
As she told TVOne: “One of the things that we saw, though, over these last eight years in terms of the recovery is a lot of families . . . actually slipped out of the middle class and into being either part of the working poor or sort of somewhere in between.”
Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.
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