The vast, corporate-funded campaign to weaken unions and lower wages of middle-class workers has reached into statehouses all over the country.
Last week in Maine, Rep. Tom Winsor requested that so-called "right-to-work" bills be drafted. So did Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello. In New Hampshire, Rep. Will Smith proposed a "right-to-work" law. Similar bills were also proposed in Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, West Virginia, and Missouri. I expect at least half a dozen more.
Working families need to fight like hell against these dangerous attacks on their wages, their benefits and their job security.
Research shows that most people don't know what these anti-union laws really do. That's intentional. You can be absolutely sure that a great deal of time and money was spent coming up with the misleading "right to work" name. It sounds like it prevents workers from being denied a job. That isn't what it does at all.
A so-called "right to work" law prohibits security clauses in union contracts. Security clauses require all workers who receive the benefit of a union contract and union representation to share the administrative costs for those services.
These "right to freeload" laws are on the books in low-wage states like Mississippi and South Carolina. That's not a coincidence. When union wages go down, workers' wages fall throughout the state.
A coordinated network of think tanks, business groups and phony grass-roots organizations has for years been working toward passing these right-to-work (for LESS) laws. Leading the charge is National Right to Work. The only right it defends is billionaires' right to their wealth. The anti-worker group attracts funding from the Mellon heirs, the Wal-Mart heirs and the Coors heirs.
Right-to-work bills are political payback for campaign contributions by corporations and billionaires. They are supported by false claims that they create jobs. What they have done in the states where they've been enacted is lower wages by an average of $5,333 a year. In right-to-work states:
•Fewer people have health insurance and the taxpayers pay substantially more to support the state's Medicaid program.
•The poverty rate rises; it's 19.1 percent in right-to-work states, compared with 16.6 percent in other states.
Don't be fooled by the misleading propaganda created by billionaires and corporations for the politicians they've purchased. These proposals have nothing to do with the right to work. They're all about forcing people to work for less.
Follow James P. Hoffa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Teamsters