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article imageOp-Ed: What 'Right To Work' Advocates Don't Want You To Know

By Hans Smedbol     Sep 14, 2011 in Politics
The idea of "Right to Work" is often touted about in the media, and mostly is presented as if such places where that "right" exists are "ideal" places to be. What they don't say is just as telling, by omission, as what disinformation they do provide.
When we consider the disinformation campaign wedged by the "right to work" promoters, it becomes clear that this agenda, although sounding wonderful, is really a kind of double speak. Everyone wants the "right to work", but not everyone wants to do it the way the "right to work" promoters would like to run things. When we encounter such people, promoting the "right to work" idea, and attempting to give the 100 years old International Labour Movement a bad name, then it is time to ask them:
"Are any of you "right to work" pushers in the working class? Or are you all business owners?" I say this because generally "right to work" really only means "right to be a serf and get paid the minimum wage, in your state, such that you'll have to have two or three of such jobs to be able to pay the rent and eat not to mention medicines and gas." (see "Arguments against" Right to work laws, by scrolling down somewhat over a third of page linked to)
This is so because even though "right to work" on it's own is not so repressive for the workers, as it allows one who is not in the union to work in a union shop, and doesn't allow the employer to collect union dues from such workers, the farther reaching implications are much worse. This is because most such states which implement the "right to work" law, also tend to be very business friendly (read: "anti union" and "anti labour rights") in other laws, such as minimum wage laws, and labour standards. What the "right to work"ers don't tell people is that although the "right to work" idea itself is not so harmful, it is but the thin edge of the wedge of oppressive labour laws and standards, oppressive that is, to the working classes. Business loves such places, because they get to keep more money, they get to have a lot more freedom and less regulations imposed upon them by progressive labour laws and standards. In short "right to work" means,for the workers, less income, and worse working conditions, as well as lack of benefits and protection against arbitrarily cruel and oppressive managements.
I asked my wife if she would like to live in a "Right to work" state. She looked mystified, and thought about the statement, then replied, yes she would. Then I asked her: "Do you know what "right to work" means?" She answered, like most people would, "well it means you have the right to work." I told her what it actually means, and the implications of implementing such laws, and then asked her if she would still like to live in such a place. "NO!!" she loudly asserted, adding that she preferred being in a union herself, because she has found great advantage to belonging, including protection from an arbitrary and domineering boss, who was unaware of the limitations of the collective agreement, as well as the policies of Selkirk College, which set out all the various rules of employment.
I can see all the business owners and managers in the audience (if any cared to venture into these "waters") wincing in anger and frustration. For them, worker's rights and unions mean higher expenditures, and more care in handling staff. This is a situation that they prefer to abolish, through "right to work" laws. For example, in the southern states of the US it was discovered that most of the agitators for "right to work" laws were business owners, who in reality were determined to kill the union movement, while propagandising the lower less educated classes with that "starry ideal" of their "right to work". What they forgot to say was that you may have a right to work, but the employer has the right to not hire you, for whatever reason.
In Wikipedia's entry for "Right to Work" laws, they describe the situation like this:
"Business interests led by the Chamber of Commerce lobbied extensively for right-to-work legislation in the Southern states.[11][16][17][18] Critics from organized labor have argued since the late 1970s[19] that while the National Right to Work Committee purports to engage in grass-roots lobbying on behalf of the "little guy", the National Right to Work Committee was formed by a group of southern businessmen with the express purpose of fighting unions, and that they "added a few workers for the purpose of public relations".[20]"
The article continues further: "They also contend that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has received millions of dollars in grants from foundations controlled by major U.S. industrialists like the New York-based Olin Foundation, Inc., which grew out of a family manufacturing business,[20][21][22] and other groups.[19]"
Is anyone in the audience still in ignorance as to what "Right to Work" really means? Yes, you guessed it, "no workers' rights of any kind, just like China, and other sweat shop third world countries." Does "right to work" still sound as harmless and wonderful as it used to? Only if you are in the Employer class. Workers with any intelligence will see that gaping abyss. and quietly refuse the option if possible.
It would be strange if any of 99% of those "right to work" pushers are in the working classes, unless they have been seriously and completely propagandised by the Capitalist spin on things. The vast majority of those promoting such "utopias" of labour as "right to work" states, really are weasels masquerading as mink stoles. They are the Capitalists or their friends in government, the "Corporatocratic" classes who prefer the workers to have no rights, to work for very low wages, slave wages basically, and who view all of the working classes as disposable as cattle or chickens, or pigs.
These Corporatocrats claim that they are attempting to add more jobs, but what kinds of jobs they don't get into: jobs with low pay, poor working conditions, oppressive scheduling, and no employee protection against arbitrary employers. Of course the lower uneducated classes see the idea of "more jobs", and salivating wildly, proclaim they'd like that, but without thinking about all the other implications of such jobs. It's fine to have more jobs, and more workers, but they should be "quality" jobs, not 20hr/week mimimum wage, on-call jobs. Do we really want to turn America and Canada into yet more third world states employment standardwise?
Do we really have to earn as little as the Chinese before our "beloved" masters will allow us to work for them? Why should we not have protection from cruel, despotic employers or managers? Why should we not receive a living wage, and enough hours such that we don't need to work at three or four jobs? That is the direction that "right to work" jurisdictions are headed. Right to work laws are designed with the employer in mind, despite the doublespeak language used for propaganda purposes. There is no advantage to the workers in such a place.
Why do you think that companies (and Governments) have "Departments of Human RESOURCES"??? Could it be that our beloved masters view us as dispassionately as herds of cattle, an exploitable resource at their pleasure? Could it be that they don't care one whit whether any one of us lives or dies but only think of us in the Mass? What hope, I ask, does the ordinary worker in those working classes, have when pitted against these merciless sociopathic behemoths of companies and their psychopathic owners, especially when Conservative/Republican/fascist lawmakers legislate anti labour laws for their business friends?
Alone, we are divided, and conquered. "Right to Work" states intentionally make their workers to be divided, and alone, and deny them any rights, other than the "right to work", forcing them to work entirely at the employer's whim, no matter how safe or unsafe the working conditions may be, no matter what the hours are, that they may want the worker for, no matter what low unliveable wage they may grudgingly part with. This arrangement is not a good one for the average member of the working class. Thus over the last century or so, a labour movement sprang up to agitate for worker's rights, a living wage, and some benefits, just a small share of the employer's financial pie. Unions were formed because only in Solidarity with each other, workers standing together against injustice and unhealthy working conditions, and for a living wage, only in Solidarity, could the individual worker ever hope for an improved working life.
Right now I will suggest to you that most anyone who is in a union shop will not voluntarily leave it unless forced to. Right to work states are arranged NOT for the benefit of the "workers", but rather the benefit of the employers, and it is disinformation to state otherwise. Workers suffer in "right to work states" far more than they do in the other ones. Three minimum wage jobs is not a good alternative to one full time fair wage paying job, and don't try to tell anyone it is.
As the Wikipedia entry continues:" Opponents further argue that because unions are weakened by these laws, wages are lowered[13] and worker safety and health is endangered. For these reasons, they often refer to right-to-work states as "right to work for less" states [14] or "right-to-fire" states, and to non-right-to-work states as "free collective bargaining" "
The link at [13] refers to a New York Times article, of January 3rd, 2011 by Steven Greenhouse, on page two of which, which he writes:
"Union leaders particularly dread the spread of right-to-work laws, which prevail in 22 states, almost all in the South or West. Under such laws, unions and employers cannot require workers to join a union or pay any dues or fees to unions to represent them.
Unions complain that such laws allow workers in unionized workplaces to reap the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for it. Pointing to lower wages in right-to-work states, unions say the laws lead to worse wages and benefits by weakening unions."
Anyone who wants to live in a "right to work" state should just move there, rather than attempting to force other people who live in a "non" right to work state, and who are ok with that, to have to accept along with the "right to work", minimum wages (or less) and three jobs to pay their way. Despite popular misconceptions in America, not all unions are the "bogey men" that they are portrayed by the press, and the Corporatocratic anti union lobby (the employers and those who stand to gain from such an arrangement).
It was the Labour union movement that struggled for a long time against the Victorian age Capitalists and their greed, their long hours, their long weeks, their dangerous working conditions, and slowly but surely won some basic worker's rights, including the minimum wage, although not without the loss of some lives. Now that the Neo Victorian Capitalists of today have weakened and decimated the labour union movement over the past fifty years, with a steady stream of disinformation, and with their friends in the Government, they are readying for the final crushing blow to be delivered to the Labour Union Movement.
To effectively deny workers the right to organise into labour unions for their own protection, and for the purposes of obtaining a living wage and some benefits, as well as to provide some checks and balances to the employers' power, is the aim of these double-speaking Corporatists, who promote "right to work" to simple minded or ignorant working class people. Of course everyone wants the right to work. But not everyone wants to work under the conditions that a "right to work" state will impose upon them for the employers' benefit. Not everyone wants to labour at minimum wage, nor with no input as to working conditions or other issues. But then, I guess, the Corporatocrats look on all of those in the Labour Movement as being "uppity", attempting to get above their class, not to mention needlessly expensive, and they will do whatever it takes, and whatever they are legally allowed to by their friends in Government to enforce their sweat shop ideas on the working class, like a bad TV rerun of the Victorian era of labour politics..
If you are in the working classes, and have to work under oppressive management without any legal recourse on your own, then you and most others would find a great help and support in the solidarity of the unionised labour movement. The Labour Union movement has provided us with the five day week, the eight hour day, minimum wage (and better), two week vacations, overtime for jobs worked overtimes, statutory holidays with pay, health benefits, and many other aspects of life that we value today, but most don't seem to know where they came from. Men and women went to prison and some died struggling in the labour movement, for workers' rights, attempting to get us the kinds of working conditions and wages that would allow at least an affordable working class life.
Of course if you live and work in a "right to work" state, all of the above may not apply to you. And if you are in the business class, at whatever level, all of the above will mightily annoy you, as "hindering" your business potential, but then in a civilised society there are certain play offs between what the business class, the employers want, and want the working classes want and need. In really civilised countries this is all worked out such that everyone has a fair share of the economic pie, or at least a fairer share than otherwise, such as in a "right to work state", where I guarantee you, you will find a wider discrepancy between the very rich and the working classes, than you might in a "non" right to work state.
Let's talk about double speak: "right to work" indeed!! What a lie!! "Right to be a slave" is what that means. This "right to work" doublespeak is almost as bad as "Arbeit macht Frei", the same kind of "double entendre", the same kind of cynicism, the same ability to raise severe cramps and nausea in a fair minded person's tender gut. Nevertheless, the "right to work" folks promote the idea as if it were the absolute best thing in the whole world (next to the Holy Bible of course), for workers of the world. Unfortunately this simplistic propaganda disinformation is heard by a willing and naive audience who laps up the propaganda as if it were truth, and only later, when confronted with stark slavery does the truth dawn as to what "right to work" really means to the working class.
Speaking as a person who was forced to join a union, CUPE, upon returning to my job after some schooling in Long Term Care, in the spring of 1990, and despite that I had voted against joining, once I was working in the union shop, I realised that I had previously been sadly misinformed about unions generally, and that they are not necessarily the devils they are portrayed to be in the mainstream media, and by the employers. I found my union to be very helpful in protecting the worker's rights, not unreasonably: if that worker had really done something stupid and wrong, being in the union wouldn't keep him/her from getting disciplined or fired, although contractually, there were certain steps to be followed to make everything work out. I found that the union was very helpful in the contract negotiations over the next twenty years, in that they had the ability and the tenacity to fight for the best wages and benefit packages they could (not always getting what we wanted, because that's how collective bargaining works...a bit of give and take). Being in a union gave one the ability and right to grieve a decision made by management if it was deemed against the contract, or to be unduly oppressive, or cruel. Also our working conditions improved some what due to union health and safety workers' pressures on management (they were also just ordinary workers who took that job on). If you are a worker in the working classes of British Columbia at least, I would say that in general the Union is your friend, and will have your back when no one else will.
Thus in my view "Right to work" states are in reality a travesty of justice aimed by the Corporatocrats, both business and political, at weakening the working class, through weakening and destroying their protectors, the Labour Unions, forcing them to work at minimum wages if not lower, entirely at the employer's discretion as to working conditions, hours of work, and so on.. They are legally enslaved to the employers. and have little or no rights, not even the right to work, because the employer can arbitrarily fire them at any time, with no recourse, other than the semi automatic assault rifle, or pistol, so lately become famous as the "labour arbitrator" of choice for depressed, laid off workers.
Those who say that we don't need unions any longer, just need travel to one of these paragons of free enterprise states, the "right to work" concentration camps that they are (for the workers). Observe very carefully the differences between workers in those states and in the others evaluating such details as: who is making a better wage? Who has more rights as to safety of working conditions and hours and days of work? Who as a worker would prefer to work enslaved to "right to work" sweatshop owners of those "right to work" states? Who really wants to have to use their semi automatic pistol to convince their employer to give them a fair wage?
Remember, one of the mottos for America is "United we Stand!" This is a very rough paraphrase of another, equally famous Latin motto, "E Pluribus Unum", which means: "Out of the Many, One".
What ever is meant by that motto, for the entire country, the same goes for the workers and the middle classes of the world. If we do not stand together in Solidarity with one another; if we let the Capitalists and the Management classes, the Corporatocratic elites to divide us into our individual selves, separated and in disunion, then we are slitting our own throats and offering them our life's blood. We might as well give up right now if we're going to do that. If we ever hope to have any influence in our own employments, in our own affaires, we must remain in solidarity with each other. Only in Solidarity do the working classes have any input into the conditons of their lives. As the Industrial Workers of the World motto goes: "An Injury to One is an Injury to All."
If we workers of the world do not stand together, then (as the old saying goes) we shall all hang separately.
The capitalists certainly stand together when it comes to labour rights, wages, and so on. They want absolute control, and mostly, they've got it. What few rights we do want, we have to stand together for, in Solidarity with the rest of the working classes, because the intent of the Corporatocrats, is to remove ALL of those hard won workers' rights, rights for which so many dedicated people have struggled, spent time in prison and even died over the last hundred years or so. Further, the Corporatocrats are using an massive disinformation campaign to accomplish their aim, which is the crushing of the labour movement, and the disenfranchising of all workers, such that each stands alone against the winds and floods and firestorms of fierce capitalistic arbitrary greed and cruelty...disguised as bottom line economics.
"Right to Work" is really "divide and conquer the working class", through union stomping and denial of rights. In reality "right to work" gives us no rights whatever. Even if we might have the "right to work", that doesn't mean that any employer has the "obligation" to hire us at a fair wage. They have the right to deny you work, just as you may have the right to work. It's all propaganda, organised by the Corporatocrats for their own benefit.
We in the working classes can not permit this economic and political oppression to happen. It is imperative that we attempt to stop this ever increasing movement by the Corporatocrats towards ever cheaper and more compliant labour pools of underpaid, undereducated "cattle", for don't forget, that is how they think of us. Never was there a more important time in Labour History, for members of the working classes to stand in solidarity against the rapaciousness of the Corporatocrats, the Neo Victorian Capitalists, who want it all for themselves, at the expense of everyone else. Never was there a more important time to realise that we workers must not bow down in submission to their oppression and greed, but must stand together in Solidarity for the betterment of all, such that we can look our children in the eyes and say, "I did my best for you". It is everyone's duty to struggle for a more just and democratic society, which does not exploit its weaker members for the benefits of the few at the top. To claim that we are little people and of no importance will not answer the needs of today. Solidarity is the only answer for the working classes if they wish to have bearable lives in the forseeable future, if they wish to live in simple dignity.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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