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Monday, March 2, 2015

 4:04 PM 

Marquette professor's study undercuts right-to-work

An economics professor from Marquette University presented a study today showing right-to-work neither increases wages nor attracts businesses.

Companies, Abdur Chowdhury told the Assembly Labor Committee, look for worker quality, tax policies, and conditions of highways and roads when considering which state to move to. 

"Now, in the age of globalization," Chowdhury said, "if firms are looking for cheap labor, they don't look at right-to-work states. They look to China or Mexico."

Under questioning from Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield and vice chairman of the committee, Chowdhury acknowledged that the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition, an informal group of businesses that oppose right-to-work, commissioned the study from him, though he declined to say if he was paid or how much.

As for wages in right-to-work states, he said, when proponents of the law cite average increases in wages, they are relying primarily on two right-to-work states, Texas and North Dakota, which experienced oil booms. Chowdhury compared that to trying to determine the average wealth of everyone in the hearing room and then watching how it would change if Bill Gates walked in.

"We all would be millionaires," he said.

Using Indiana as a representative of right-to-work states does not work either, Chowdhury said, because it adopted the law only in 2012. Oklahoma, he said, offers a better gauge because it adopted right-to-work in 2001.

"In most economic indicators you see," Chowdhury said, "Oklahoma has done much worse than Wisconsin. So the question is: Why do we want to be Oklahoma?"

If right-to-work does not attract businesses or increase wages, he said, the only reasonable explanation is the law is designed to hamstring unions.


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