IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Racing to the bottom for jobs

Indiana House Democrats have started their boycott again in an effort to slow down the Republicans' anti-union bill.

Indiana House Democrats have started their boycott again in an effort to slow down the Republicans' anti-union bill. The Indianapolis Star ties it to the way Republicans muscled their anti-union bill through a House committee yesterday. They shut down debate on the Right to Work bill, which effectively bans union shops. The Republican chair refused to consider amendments, then called the roll and adjourned the meeting without announcing the vote tally.

At the end of the tape, you see the labor supporters in the room promising that this fight isn't over. Notice the guy in the orange jacket, the one who calls out, "American lives have been lost in wars defending our democracy." In a second clip, shorter overall, he says,

"How do you sleep at night? You're taking wages and benefits out of working families."

Wages in Right to Work states are an average of 3.2 percent lower than in states with strong unions. Indiana Republicans have said that companies are turning down Indiana because it allows union shops, but they haven't named companies that are staying away. Meanwhile, the state is attracting jobs faster than Right to Work states in the region.

In other news yesterday, Honda announced that it will build a new plant in Ohio, which has strong unions and no Right to Work law. The last time Honda offered this particular car model, the Acura NSX, it built them in Japan. Now it makes sense to do that manufacturing in Ohio, where, incidentally or not, the workers have the right to form a strong union. An official with the Center of Automotive Research told the Dayton paper he's not sure whether the presence of a union makes a difference for car companies these days. Yet there's talk of passing anti-union laws in Ohio and Wisconsin both.

Bringing manufacturing back to the states is a new development in the American economy; overseas wages have risen to a point where companies find it cheaper to make stuff in the U.S., so they do. It's also a new development in American politics; see the White House forum on "insourcing" today. The question now is what states will do in the name of courting those insourced jobs -- the "race to the bottom" President Obama spoke against at a fundraiser this week.