WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: John Dunphy of Godfrey, Illinois is a poet and author of From Christmas to Twelfth Night in Southern Illinois. The following Labor Op-Ed written by Godfrey, who owns the Second Reading Book Shop in Alton, recently appeared in The Alton Telegraph and can be directly accessed at: http://thetelegraph.com/opinion/71828/right-to-work-means-exploitation
Missouri’s Tea Party Republican-dominated State Legislature recently failed to override Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of Right-To-Work, a measure supported by wealthy reactionaries who believe Workers should content themselves with the crumbs that drop from Corporate America’s table.
As George Gresham of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wrote in a column for The New York Times: “By defunding Unions and weakening Union Members via Right-To-Work Laws, corporations and those that do their bidding remove Workers’ primary means of raising wages, securing pensions and improving working conditions.”
Right-To-Work has recently been enacted in several states, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, that were once bastions of Organized Labor.
How did the Union-Hating extremists who push Right-To-Work succeed?
An editorial last May in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch observed: “The recent rise in the passage of Right-To-Work Laws is directly related to the increased ability of wealthy donors to control the U.S. political system.”
These reactionary plutocrats funnel millions of dollars “through shell political committees to further enable a massive shift in wealth from the Poor and Middle Classes to the top 1%.
Right-To-Work is near the top of corporate America’s political agenda because it means weaker Unions, lower wages and less benefits for Workers.
The Post-Dispatch correctly noted that “Missouri’s Right-To-Work bill was lifted almost word-for-word from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-backed organization that pays for yearly junkets for lawmakers and then gives them canned bills to try to pass back home.”
This phenomenon of Republican Legislators pushing ALEC-backed canned bills is by no means limited to Missouri.
Bill Raden in a column for The Huffington Post stated: “Every key bill (Scott) Walker has been associated with since… a State Assemblyman in the 1990s has been a plagiarism of an ALEC model bill.” These ALEC-backed laws included measures that….”gutted public education and Teacher protections, and made Wisconsin the 25th Right-To-Work state.”
Lisa Graves, in her article: ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection, observed that “untold sums of cash poured into ALEC by Charles and David Koch have been an effective investment in advancing their worldview.”
The Kochs’ subsidization of ALEC has made these brothers a force to be reckoned with in our Nation.
“Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations,” Graves maintains, “ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.”
Americans for Prosperity, another Koch-subsidized organization, also backs Right-To-Work.
The title of Matt Vespa’s article: Americans For Prosperity Continues Right To Work Fight In Kentucky, on the right-wing web site Townhall speaks for itself.
The Campaign for America’s Future describes the Kochs’ goal of transforming the United States into a Nation of “Unregulated, unaccountable corporations. Extremist elected officials who disdain the concept of a government serving the common good. Workers stripped of the ability to negotiate collectively for fair pay, working conditions and benefits. Hundreds of millions of corporate dollars drowning out the voices of Working-Class and Middle-Class people.”
Such a Nation would be a utopia for the wealthy and powerful – and a dystopia for the rest of us.
“In May, a Right-To-Work bill failed miserably in Springfield with zero ‘yes’ votes,” Matt Vespa noted in his column. “So, for all intents and purposes, further discussion on Right-To-Work in deep blue Illinois is dead.”
For once this columnist agrees with a right-winger.
But here are a couple of facts that Vespa failed to mention.
Democrats and Union Supporters intend to keep the Prairie State deep blue.
We also intend to keep Right-To-Work dead.