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Oklahoma Workers Expose RTW Lies

In 2001, Oklahoma passed a so-called right to work (RTW) law and its backers made the exact claims Hoosiers are hearing today. RTW proponents painted a picture of a booming economy with huge job creation as companies would swoop into Oklahoma like the Boomer Sooners of the 1889 land rush. None of that ever materialized, two Oklahoma workers told an Indiana statehouse news conference this morning.

Jesse Isbell worked for 36 years at the Bridgestone Tire plant in Oklahoma City before it shut down 2006 and the jobs were shipped to Mexico.

There is absolutely no anecdotal or empirical evidence that RTW has benefitted Oklahoma’s state economy in any way. The company made the decision to outsource our jobs even though the proponents of the right-to-work legislation claimed it would prevent such departures and even attract new businesses to locate in the state.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and the Republican lawmakers pushing RTW in the Hoosier State claim hundreds of businesses have decided not locate in Indiana because the state lacks a RTW law. But they cannot produce a single example. Isbell says that’s a re-run of what Oklahomans heard in 2001.

Proponents of RTW in Oklahoma literally said that employers were lined up at the state line ready to move to Oklahoma once the bill became law. Mind you, they never offered any specific examples, and those nameless companies never materialized to become employers in Oklahoma. Beware of any argument that makes similar claims without specifics to back it up.

Since the law passed in 2001, the number of new companies coming into Oklahoma has decreased by one-third and the number of manufacturing jobs in the state has fallen by one-third, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kitti Asberry, who lost her job of 27 years after the General Motors plant in Oklahoma shuttered in 2005–tossing 2,400 people out of work–said:

Right to work has not fulfilled the promises of its proponents in the 10 years since it passed. In fact, Oklahoma has slipped economically with so many jobs moving to Mexico and other countries. And the jobs that remain are paying lower wages than before the law took effect.

Asberry told reporters that those lower wages since RTW became law means working families have diminished disposable income and are buying less food, housing, services, travel and entertainment and are relying more on government assistance.

I have to warn the people of Indiana of the slow, vicious cycle that RTW has on families. Cycles of decreasing resources for our schools, cycles of increasing reliance on public assistance, cycles of increasing crime and incarceration rates, just to name a few, have all been fueled by the downward cycle of lowering wages and job quality. This is what a RTW economy looks like and it falls far short of the promises made by those who were pushing for its adoption 10 years ago.

Page Last Updated: Jan 23, 2012 (16:45:51)
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