Lovely legs by Albert Wyndham.
Germany October 1949
The ‘Right to Work’ - (for less)
Over fifty years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. warned America .. “we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone.” Sadly his warning went unheeded.
The Orwellian-named ‘Right to Work’ laws (in reality the ‘destroy union power and benefit employers’ laws) have spread like a cancer through Republican states. They are usually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group backed by corporate special interests to peddle influence with state legislators. Campaigns are funded by entities like ‘Americans for Prosperity’, a front group bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers, and the legislation is rammed through by the Republican state politicians that do their bidding.
That, right there, tells us all we need to know. There’s no mystery about it. Nothing subtle going on. It’s naked self-interest. When the infamous Koch brothers pour millions of dollars into buying politicians and changing the law you know for certain the rich will benefit and working people will suffer. And suffer they do. Without any question whatsoever. Employees in states with ‘right-to-work’ laws have lower wages, on average, than their counterparts elsewhere. Coverage by employer-sponsored health insurance and pension coverage is also lower .. (reference).
The anti-union brainwashing job done over many decades on the American public has been spectacularly successful but, despite what big business interests and the politicians of the far-right who are their paid lackeys constantly preach, strong and effective trade unions are absolutely vital in western societies. The ‘free market’ can be a useful tool but has no conscience. It will exploit workers every time unless something prevents it. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Trade Unions provide the essential counter-balancing force and are often the only protection the average worker has against exploitation. Neither America or any other major western power would be a fraction as successful or civilized if trade unions had never existed.
Its no surprise that Hitler hated trade unionists and fascists everywhere try to undermine and suppress them. Totalitarian states ban them. Politicians fear them. Fair wages, decent working hours, women’s rights, health and safety, equality in the work place, they have all been advanced by trade unions.
In the twilight days of the Soviet satellite states and in the brutal right-wing dictatorships propped up by the USA in Latin-America, some trade unionists risked their lives to fight oppression. When it comes to ‘government’ versus ‘trade unions’ its usually (not always but usually) the latter who have the angels on their side.
Anyone who tries to suppress the fair and legitimate operation of trade unions is an enemy of us all. Anyone who tries to smear them with stupid ‘USA-bogey-man’ words like ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ is either a fool or has some selfish agenda and should be greeted with hoots of derision or just ignored. Anyone who thinks trade unions are irrelevant nowadays simply needs to think.
Especially today, as we continue to suffer the bitter aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008 caused by the failure of free-market financial institutions and lax regulation, we need trade unions more than ever.
Wrong doers never escape…
Alwin Nikolais Centennial. Liturgies- Fred Hayes
"Naughty but nice" movie poster by John Held Jr.