Do Strong Unions Equal Prosperous States?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," February 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: I've got to tell you. America — the country is changing fundamentally and it is overnight. Progressives and their friends in the government can't get enough of the union. And I saw this quote from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich tonight. I thought, "You've got to be kidding me. How does anybody believe it?"

Here it is, "Unionization is not just good for workers and unions. Unionization is very, very important for the economy overall and would create broad benefits for the United States. If they did have higher wages and benefits, then they would have purchasing power they need to buy more of the goods and services that this economy produces. That would strengthen the economy overall."

My — I mean, I took like 40 seconds just to think about that one, and I went, well, if unions are so great, wouldn't that mean then Detroit would be Disney World? Shouldn't that be the most prosperous place on earth?

Video: Watch Glenn's interview

Here is Tim Phillips, president for Americans for Prosperity. Tim, help me out on this one.

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Well, sadly, there is delusion going around. He's drinking water, clearly. When you look at the numbers, states that are non-unionized, where people have the freedom to choose whether to join a union or not, that's where prosperity is and that's where job growth is. And it only makes sense, right?

BECK: Right.

PHILLIPS: When people have the chance to choose whether or not they're going to join a union over being forced, coerced into joining a union, prosperity results. Jobs are created. When you look at the numbers, they bear this very fact out.

BECK: OK. Those are the states that are the free states. Colorado just changed, right?

PHILLIPS: Yes. Twenty-two states are free states; 28 states are forced-union states.


PHILLIPS: And when you look at the numbers here, it's mind boggling. Flip to the next chart.

BECK: Go to the next chart where are the numbers here? Do you have the numbers? Which numbers are you looking for?

PHILLIPS: We are looking for the GDP and the job growth - private job growth.

BECK: OK. Private sector -

PHILLIPS: When you look at increase in jobs, the right-to-work states are exploding - 39 percent job growth - 39 percent; union states, 29 percent. Yet, unions are the ones who are supposed to be creating jobs, right? Reality does not bear that out.

And then the growth is the most stunning thing. Growth is really just measurements of prosperity. Are jobs being created? Are people having a higher standard of living? When you look at those numbers, you see it is almost two-to-one, or really is two-to-one.

In free states, right-to-work states, people succeed and grow and have jobs, and that's what we're talking about.

BECK: You can - I mean, I just finished a stage show. I did a one-man stage show, and had to do it because it was here in New York, had to do it with a union.


BECK: I actually had to pay somebody to stand behind somebody who wasn't union all day. I asked for water backstage. I'm not kidding you, in Philadelphia, at the Kimmel Center, it cost me — I think it was $400 or $450 to put water backstage.

I said, "I'll just bring my own water." Couldn't do it. Now, how could you possibly tell me that that's good for the country?

PHILLIPS: Well, it's not. And when you look at population growth, people are voting with their feet. These right-to-work states where there's freedom, population is exploding there. They're beating more than two-to-one in population growth the states that are forced union states.

So people vote with their feet. When they have to use these silly rules you just mentioned, just to get a job, they get out of there. They go to states where there is freedom.

BECK: Back in just a second, a little bit more.


BECK: My producer just said in my ear, "Hey, fat Glenn is on the front page of" Well, that's not necessary. That is the money thing that we just showed you earlier. You can download it and send it to your friends and make sure that they know what is going on.

Listen. I want you to understand, this show is fair, but it's not necessarily balanced because it's my opinion. That's just the way it is. Get over it, Jack.

We are talking to Tim Phillips a little a bit about — he's the president of Americans for Prosperity. We're talking to him about the unions, something that I read from Robert Reich that you'll hear everywhere else about, oh, how states with unions. Oh, they're great. You know what's going to happen? People will have more money, because they'll make more money.

Well, businesses will go out. Give me productivity in union states versus non-union states.

PHILLIPS: They always make that claim — the unions do, "Hey, we're going to increase productivity through the union." But when you look at numbers, they don't bear that out. Right-to-work states, free states — the productivity is actually higher, Glenn.

Here is why. The workplace rules put in place by the unions kill creativity. They stifle innovation. When people have the chance to freely work and to innovate, they're more productive. And that's what happens in the non-union states.

BECK: Go back to that slide again for just a second, please. OK. Job growth, 17.6 percent in right-to-work states; 8.9 — this is the same thing we learned in the Great Depression, is it not?

PHILLIPS: That is exactly right. And when businesses have a chance to go where they're free and where workers are free to choose whether or not to join a union and take on onerous workplace restrictions, that's where the jobs go. There is a reason Michigan, which is the poster child for forced unionism, right? 10.6 percent unemployment, highest —

BECK: Wait a minute. Let's be fair here. They would say, "Well, that's because the car manufacturers stink on ice."


BECK: And I personally think that the union workers and everybody has made — they have made really good cars.


BECK: They have gotten over that hurdle. We aren't making the pacer anymore.


BECK: But they'll say that that's the company making bad decisions.

PHILLIPS: If it was just one or two years where the unemployment was higher in Michigan, that bargain may make sense. But for six years in a row, Michigan lost jobs. Six years in a row — you can't blame all of that just on a down year or two for the automotive industry.


PHILLIPS: The proof is in the numbers there.

BECK: OK. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

BECK: By the way, let's go to number nine — or nine principles and our 12 values. The question is, should we all go union, become a socialist collective, work for the collective? Principle number 7, "I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. The government can't force me to be charitable."

And really, I think that's — I think that is exactly what unions are. The good workers, the hard-workers are subsidizing the bad ones, the ones that should be fired.

Principle number 8, "It's not un-American for me to disagree or share my personal opinion." That one is important, because I have a feeling people with my point of view are going to be hard to listen to after a while or hard to find.

If any of these things make sense to you, you're not alone. E- mail your picture to And don't you dare miss our special. It is Friday, March 13th on this. You don't want to miss it. Have your friends with you.

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