On February 17, 2012, By NRTW Committee Staff
Caterpillar has been a mainstay Illinois-based company for generations but no longer. The power and influence of big labor has impacted the company for too long, damaging its bottom-line and hurting workers.
Now that Illinois’ neighbor, Indiana, has become a Right to Work state, Caterpillar is exploring their options, according to The Detroit News’ Robert Laurie:
Back in 2009, Barack Obama announced that Caterpillar had promised to rehire some of its laid-off workforce if his stimulus proposal passed. This week, the nation’s largest manufacturer of mining and construction equipment announced that it would be moving a factory from Canada to Indiana. In the process, it will create 450 new jobs in the state.
You’d think the president would be happy, but this is not quite what he had bargained for. Take note, Governor Snyder. Caterpillar’s move came almost immediately after Indiana passed a right-to-work law, which will make union dues voluntary in the state. Labor officials claim Right To Work will deplete union funds, making it much more difficult for them to organize factories.
Coincidence? Workers who were formerly employed at the London, Ontario factory have been locked out since the beginning of the year after their union refused to accept pay cuts which would have kept the operation profitable. As a result of Big Labor’s obstinance, these jobs have been permanently eliminated and the plant relocated. The work will now be done in Muncie, [Indiana].
Big business has already been fleeing Quinn’s state after he signed a massive 2011 tax hike. Illinois had been in the running for a new Caterpillar facility of its own, one that would bring a whopping 1,400 jobs to the area by relocating a factory currently operating in Japan. This plan has now been completely scrapped.
However, while Cat may not have directly mentioned Right To Work, it did slam the way Illinois is treating business. “Please understand,” Caterpillar representatives said in an email, “that even if your community had the right logistics for this project, Caterpillar’s previously documented concerns about the business climate and overall fiscal health of the state of Illinois still would have made it unpractical for us to select your community for this project.”
Governor Quinn is now waving goodbye to 1,400 potential jobs.
Is it any surprise, to anyone, that a corporation looking to open another factory would be more attracted to an area in which perceived costs would be lower and the business climate friendlier?
The Caterpillar workers in Ontario were stubborn, and holding onto their demands, demands which the company said would make the operation unprofitable. The workers stuck to their guns, and the company to theirs . . . and now the workers are all unemployed. Of course, they would have been eventually, anyway: if they made the company unprofitable, then it would go out of business eventually.
In an environment of maximum freedom, workers should have the absolute right to organize themselves into a union, but companies should have an absolute right to choose to either recognize and negotiate with said union, or not recognize, and ignore the union. In an environment of maximum freedom, workers should have teh absolute right to choose to contribute to a union, or decline to contribute to a union.
There are definite winners and losers when it comes to freedom. In a business environment, unions do lose power vis a vis corporations when freedom is in play. But freedom is not a neutral; freedom is an objective good, and if some people win, and others lose, due to increased freedom, such is the price which must be paid. It is far better to pay that price to have freedom, than to lose freedom.
The episode in Ontario is instructive. The union would have the workers believe that it is their best friend, but, in that, the union is wrong. The best friend of the working man is the employer who provides him with a job, who pays him a wage for his labor. The unionized Caterpillar workers in Ontario found that out the hard way: in a battle between the company and the union, they stuck with the union. Now they are discovering that it wasn’t the union which provided them with jobs, but the company.
That’s a rough lesson to learn.