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Est. April 5, 2002
September 22, 2016 - Issue 667

Right Wing Shills Continue
Anti-Worker Propaganda

"The rulers of Corporate America are encouraging
workers to do to their fellow workers what they
never would tolerate in their own realm.  The
damage done is that the solidarity of a union is
destroyed and the chances of workers’ getting
their just wages and benefits are reduced, every
time another worker opts out of the union."

If the Koch brothers helped to defend American workers against each other any more than they do, there’s no telling how small an hourly wage would be acceptable.

The brothers are relentless, working through their front groups with names that sound like they are the most generous billionaires in the world: National Right to Work (for less) Committee, Worker’s Choice, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and many others. All of their groups and the groups that they are affiliated with sound most generous and moral and are designed to make it seem that they are trying to help wageworkers realize the great American Dream for themselves. If only it were so.

Rather, they saw many years ago that the continuing growth of the middle class was the direct result of the growth of unions and that the union movement was the principal, if not the only, way that workers could achieve their goal of a middle class existence. If millions of unionized workers could enter the middle class so easily (by negotiating their pay and benefits at the table with management), why, that was money that was not going into the coffers of their corporations, or into their own pockets.

Something had to be done or profits would be much less and, to the Koch brothers, who sit atop a conglomeration of some of the most polluting industries in the world, they would not take a back seat to anyone in stopping the march of workers to the nearest union. It would be money out of their pockets…not to be tolerated. They are not alone in their pursuit of complete control over the nation’s economic life. In the case of the Koch brothers, they had their inheritance to protect. Worth about $89 billion between them, they inherited most of that wealth and that inherited wealth gave them great power. They don’t want to lose any of that power, so let the propaganda fly.

Along that plan, they and others released the results of a poll in August that purported to show that 29 percent of union members would quit their union, if it did not endanger their job or livelihood and if they were not penalized in any way. The poll, backed by one of the Koch-supported groups, was released during “National Employee Freedom Week,” a campaign that supposedly tests the attitudes of workers about the basic idea of unionization. reported on the poll last month, noting that 67 percent of workers questioned “favored a so-called Worker’s Choice option in right-to-work states (under which option) unions would be freed of their legal obligation…to bargain on behalf of all members of a bargaining unit, members and nonmembers alike. The nonmembers would instead represent themselves in negotiations with their employer.”

Anyone might guess that an individual worker going up against a supervisor or a plant manager or company CEO for a raise or sick leave would not normally be equipped to match wits with someone who is in a position to arbitrarily discipline or fire the individual. It isn’t a match of equals. That’s why there are unions. There was a long, bloody period in the U.S. before there were laws passed that provided for organizing unions in the mid-1930s. Before that time, unions were widely considered to be conspiracies and, as such, their participants could be treated as conspirators and the harsh treatment and deaths they suffered at the hands of government agents and Corporate America’s private armies was the norm.

Even after laws were passed encouraging workers to form unions and making it legal, it was difficult at first, but solidarity among workers in a factory or mine was shown to be the best way to deal with an abusive employer or to negotiate a contract covering pay, benefits, and pensions. The best part was that, as a group, they could approach the bargaining table as equals with the company negotiators. Eventually, unionization became common among all kinds of workers: office workers, news workers, construction workers, painters, roofers, and dozens more. In the middle of the 20th Century, even public workers at all levels of government were allowed by law to organize unions, but they were not allowed to strike, which was the one strength that gave the first unions their equality at the bargaining table. But the biggest strength was the solidarity among union members in a single workplace and solidarity across all of the unions.

That gives the lie to any manipulative law that gives an individual worker the “right” to bargain for himself or herself, no matter how the Koch brothers or others like them try to paint it in bright colors. An individual against the power of Corporate America is a grain of sand on a beach and so-called Workers Choice is no more valuable than that.

Here’s how it works: In so-called right-to-work states, an individual worker is allowed to opt out of the union, but usually still has to pay the equivalent of dues, to help pay for all of the administrative work that goes into negotiating and administering a contract (including handling all cases of dismissal or discipline). With the new Koch-inspired gimmick of “worker’s choice,” the individual would not pay dues and the union would not have to represent the worker in any way.

The rulers of Corporate America are encouraging workers to do to their fellow workers what they never would tolerate in their own realm. The damage done is that the solidarity of a union is destroyed and the chances of workers’ getting their just wages and benefits are reduced, every time another worker opts out of the union. Weak unions equals weak workers and a weak labor force and it little matters what kind of workplace in which this occurs.

The assault by Corporate America on workers’ rights is an assault on workers, in general, and it has been happening for decades. Wage-working Americans will have to be educated about this assault on their living standards by big business and their wealthy owners and, if something is to be done about the vast disparity in wealth between the

1 percent and the rest of us, the workers will have to do it. And it will take the majority of workers, acting together, to make the changes needed.

All workers, regardless of what individual groups they identify with, will have to come together, work together, ignore the wedges that the rich and corporations try to drive between all of the groups, and turn around the legalistic maze that has been created by the 1 percent to stop workers in their tracks. They have the money and power of money, but the people have their own kind of power: the power of the people. Begin to use it. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
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Peter Gamble

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