Saturday, July 12, 2008

State Government Proud that Maryland is Anti-Union (Updated)

When I saw this post on Free State Politics, I could not believe my eyes. But it's true: the state's Department of Business and Economic Development is trying to paint Maryland as an anti-union state to attract new businesses.

I encourage everyone to read the original post on FSP but here is the issue in a nutshell. The state is telling business that even though it does not have a right-to-work law, businesses have nothing to fear because unions here are (in their opinion) weak. Here's a sample of their language:

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

A quality workforce supplies a great resource, key to achieving corporate goals.

The percentage of private sector union membership in Maryland is 7.2 percent, which is lower than the national average of 7.5 percent and lower than most northeast and midwest states.

13.8 percent of the state's private sector manufacturing workers are union members, a lower percentage than two of the RTW states, as well as other states including New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

(Source: Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.)

An analysis of companies new to Maryland from 1990 to 2001 (excluding firms that were already unionized upon their entry to the state and firms with fewer than 25 workers) reveals that:

Only two percent of the over 3,200 companies were petitioned by unions.

Half of Maryland's counties experienced no petitions for union elections.

Unions won representation rights for only one percent of the total new firms during the period analyzed.

Although petitions were filed most frequently in the services and manufacturing industries, unions won representation rights in just four percent of new Maryland manufacturing firms.
Now Governor O'Malley has been fairly pro-labor. I am sure that he had no knowledge of this vile propaganda spewed by underlings scurrying within the bowels of the state bureaucracy. But as I write this, outraged emails are flying across the state's entire labor movement. We cannot believe that rhetoric typical of Georgia and Oklahoma would be sanctioned at any level inside the O'Malley administration.

FSP's Eric Luedtke is asking blog readers to register their protests with the state's leadership. I agree with him and I refer you to his post for the relevant email addresses. If the Governor acts swiftly to revoke the state's anti-union pandering, most reasonable people will probably view it as a mistake and be willing to move on. But quick action is in order.

Update: The state's union-bashing is based partly on National Labor Relations Board election data from 2006. That data would not have been available until well into 2007, after Governor O'Malley assumed office. That proves that the propaganda was at least partially drafted during the O'Malley administration and cannot be blamed entirely - or perhaps not at all - on his predecessor.

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