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A Smart Strategy to Defeat 'Right to Work'


A Smart Strategy to Defeat 'Right to Work'

Rand Wilson

Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it.


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Most people with whom I have spoken about RTW laws just see it in terms of not being forced to pay union dues. So their short term benefit trumps anything else. When I point out the real underlying costs involved in saving those few bucks, they’re pretty stunned. Which goes to show, propaganda works.


Once upon a time all of working America understood that the management of their breadwinner’s employer were a bunch of ruthless, cold-blooded, psychopaths to whom workers were so much headcount and treated like so many draft animals–work till dead and then replace with some new headcount.
Nobody wondered about the why of workers demands–it was a matter of life and death. Today, US corporate management has outsourced their more murderous psychopathic tendencies to subcontractors in the world’s developing nations where military dictatorships assure worker compliance.
Those workers who remain employed at home are squeezed by new threats: Specifically currency inflation and stagnating wages despite great gains in productivity by American workers. When management faces increasing costs due to the policies that neoliberal and neoconservatives they elect to the legislatures of the country produce, they just jack up the cost of their products or services.
When their workers face increasing costs due to the same inflation they just…They just go out and take out loans or get another job on top of the one they are already working. The slavery is self-imposed rather than from the workplace. Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Alfred Sloan would be green with envy over how management has morphed into an even uglier monster than it was in their day.
If that story is effectively told (as it was in the excellent documentary titled “The Corporation” that is available on youtube by that title) and ordinary working people realize both how they have been taken advantage of and the nature of the beast against which they must struggle, there will be no problem with motivating workers and the rest of the public to demand change.


Excellent clarification, Matt. Thank you!


I wrote, “While it’s unfortunate that the labor initiative didn’t go before Colorado voters, the result was still encouraging—and instructive. By championing the interests of all workers, labor split business and blunted the right-to-work effort.”

So to be clear, I used the Colorado example as an illustration of the power of going on the offensive with Just Cause for All but I don’t believe in using an initiative as a bargaining chit.


Thank you for writing this sharp article Rand. You talk about strategy that nobody in the AFL-CIO seems to be discussing.

I was in Madison when the Republicans shut down testimony from workers and RTW was passed out of the Senate committee and then again when it passed out of the Assembly committee. Many of the AFL-CIO leaders clearly did not want to be there protesting. There were some bright lights amongst the union leaders though, like the Machinists President who called for a “Do nothing day” when people would go to work and do nothing. I think this sort of mass action by workers, combined with your idea of demands that benefit all workers, is the way forward. There is very little actual organization of the workers and consciousness is restricted to seeing unions as insurance companies or businesses. Problems to overcome for sure.


Sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you.
Right-to-work laws make it optional for workers protected by a union contract to help pay for the expenses that the union incurs while guaranteeing the rights of all employees. By limiting unions’ resources and weakening the ability of workers to have a say about their jobs, these laws drive down everyone’s wages, benefits, and overall living standards.

RTW laws drive down wages by $1,500 per year for all workers, including non-union workers.

Google: “Why “Right to Work” Is Wrong for Everyone” for more facts about why this is a bad policy for workers and for business.