Sunday, July 13, 2008

Anti-Union Bragging: How Far Back?

How long has Maryland been spouting anti-union propaganda to businesses on its web site (a story broken by Free State Politics)? Is this something that the O'Malley administration began, or did they simply update a web page they inherited from Gov. Ehrlich? Surprisingly, the answer is neither: This seems to go back at least as far as the Glendening administration.

As Adam Pagnucco points out, the statistics used on the website became available only after O'Malley took office, putting his administration's fingerprints on the deed.

However, a search of old, cached versions of the website shows that both the Ehrlich and Glendening administrations were using pretty much the same anti-union approach to business solicitation.

In the summer of 2005, the Ehrlich version of the web page was exactly the same except for the specific years' statistics being cited. No surprise, really.

What about during the Glendening administration?

In the fall of 2002, the Glendening version of the web page had pretty much the same tone and much of the same text as the Ehrlich and O'Malley versions, although it did not include quite as many anti-union stats as its two successors. But it was still pretty bad in its anti-union spin.

While not a "right-to-work" state, Maryland offers businesses a very favorable labor climate.

* A quality work force supplies a great resource, key to achieving corporate goals.
* The percentage of private sector union membership in Maryland is 7.8 percent, which is below the national average of 9.0 percent and lower than half of the other states. (Source: Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.)

Right-to-work laws are not guarantees of a good management/labor climate

A comparison of Maryland and the 21 RTW states dispels some misconceptions about RTW and depicts the state's favorable labor climate.

Right-to-work does not prevent unions from waging aggressive organizational campaigns and winning union certification elections. It does not prevent them from maintaining a stronghold or from striking to achieve their goals.

* Unions won 42 percent of the union representation elections held in Maryland from 1990 to 2000, which is a lower percentage of union wins than in all but three of the 21 RTW states.

Right-to-work does not prevent employees from joining unions voluntarily.

* From 1990 to 2000, only 28 percent of Maryland's eligible employees joined unions. The RTW states climbed as high as 54 percent, averaging 38 percent of eligible employees joining unions during this period.

(They followed this with a state-by-state chart comparing Maryland to Right to Work states)

If anyone out there wants to pinpoint exactly when particular changes were made to the site, you can use the so-called Internet Archive Wayback Machine as a resource. It goes back to 2000.

So it would appear that the O'Malley administration inherited and decided to maintain and update an anti-union sales pitch on the state website, just as the Ehrlich administration had done when it took over.

Looks like all three administrations get a black eye here.