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March 2017

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The Right-to-Work Con

Since 2011, four traditionally pro-union states have gone right-to-work thanks to Republican sweeps in the 2010 election. Missouri passed right-to-work on Feb. 6 and right-to-work bills are pending in two more states due to GOP gains last November.

Even more disturbing, last month Reps. Steve King of Iowa and South Carolina's Joe Wilson introduced legislation that would make right-to-work the law of the land across the country.

Around the same time King and Wilson put forward their bill, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that President Trump was in full support of right-to-work laws.

Supporters claim that it will free workers to make their own decisions and will encourage new job growth and that it has nothing to do with attacking unions.

Let us cut through the rhetoric. Right-to-work has nothing to do with protecting the rights of the individual. No one can be forced to pay union dues if they don't want to under current labor law — just a maintenance of contract fee.

And it has nothing to do with creating jobs or attracting new business. On the annual surveys of manufacturers by Area Development magazine, right-to-work has never ranked in the top 10 factors influencing location decisions.

The last state before 2010 to go right-to-work was Oklahoma in 2003. Supporters said it would bring desperately needed jobs to the state. Instead, 14 years later the number of new jobs coming to Oklahoma fell by one-third.

The GOP's right-to-work crusade is all about weakening the one institution that gives working families a voice and fights for higher wages, stronger benefits and safer workplaces: the labor movement.

Right-to-work hurts everyone who works for a living, union and nonunion alike. It is not a coincidence that workers in right-to-work states make on average $5,000 a year less than their counterparts in the rest of the country.

Right-to-work is about tilting the balance of political power in America toward the 1 percent and big-money lobbyists, all the while unfairly punishing businesses that play fair and engage in collective bargaining, by letting the government tell owners how to manage their relationships with employees.

Right-to-work advocates will not tell voters the truth, but we will.

It is up to us to start making phones calls and letting our representatives know that any legislation that lowers wages and muffles the voice of working families is the wrong direction for this country.


Also: Stephenson: Growing from the Ground Up Read Stephenson's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer