The West Virginia AFL-CIO is upset.
The state’s largest commercial radio network, Metronews, owned by West Virginia Radio Corp., pulled three paid radio advertisements providing what the AFL-CIO calls “facts surrounding the so-called right-to-work law being touted by the legislative leadership.”
“Since West Virginia Radio Corporation’s choice to pull our ‘Right to Work is Wrong for West Virginia’ ads off the air without explanation was mentioned in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, we’ve received a lot of questions,” state AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. Perdue goes on to say the network’s only explanation was the ads are “inflammatory” and assumes the decision was made by conservative Chairman John Raese, “a wealthy Republican politician.”
Whether the ads are inflammatory is a judgment call, but they do mislead by quoting studies that don’t necessarily address correlation and causation. Each ad touches on a different aspect of right to work:
n A 54 percent increase in workplace injury and death in states with right-to-work laws
n Lower wages in states with a right-to-work law
n The fact that such a law is government interference in employer-employee negotiations.
The 54 percent increase in injury and death statistic comes from a 2014 AFL-CIO report “Death on the job, the toll of neglect,” using Bureau of Labor statistics.
Yet a 2012 study by the conservative Meighen Institute suggests that union workplaces have more injuries than non-union workplaces. And a 2012 report from a Michigan group supporting right-to-work legislation cites a reduction in injuries and illnesses in Oklahoma over a 10-year period after right-to-work laws went into effect in 2001.
“It’s true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries, but the very dangerous occupations are concentrated ... in occupations like farming, fishing and forestry regardless of whether the state has a right-to-work law,” the CAPCON report says.
The AFL-CIO says that right-to-work states have lower average wage rates. That too is true, but as Daily Mail columnist Laurie Lin covered last week, those states also generally have much lower cost-of-living rates.
“When adjusting for cost of living, workers in right-to-work states have 4.1 percent higher per-capita personal incomes than workers in non-right-to-work states,” reports the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
And lastly, the claim that such a law is government interference in employer-employee negotiations could be argued as true. So then could the very existence of the National Labor Relations Board, its founding act and all of its rulings.