Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Est. April 5, 2002
April 06, 2017 - Issue 693

Right-Wing Republicans
Congress are Outdone
Rep. Virginia Foxx of N.C.


"Foxx does not believe that unions
need exist at all, because, she claims,
the laws of the country already take
care of workers and their welfare
and safety on the job."

The U.S. Senate has driven the last nail in the coffin of the rule that allowed cities and counties to create their own retirement savings accounts for their workers and, at the same time, showed their true colors on the question of local or home rule.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, submitted a bill to roll back a U.S. Labor Department rule that allowed local governments to set up such retirement accounts for those who are offered one by their private sector employers. Foxx’s measure was passed by the Senate by one vote at the end of last month.

It has been a longtime goal of many in the organized labor movement to create a system of retirement benefits for working men and women that would begin when they started work and would follow them throughout their entire working lives, regardless of their employment or number of employers. The goal has never even been approached and, although the rule that the Republicans just killed would not have realized that goal, it would have gone some distance toward it.

What could have been the rationale for introducing repeal of such a simple and helpful program for working families everywhere in the country? The only thing imaginable would be the ideology of many Republicans that government should not be involved in providing services for anyone. The possible exceptions to this ideology would be Corporate America and the rich. And Rep. Foxx is a torch-bearer for this ideology, even when it makes no sense.

The other glaring hypocrisy involved in killing the rule is that the GOP is the party of “states’ rights” and “local control.” The actions by Foxx and the Senate Republicans fly in the face of local control that has been so long touted as a bedrock plank in the platform of Republican reaction. They do, indeed, intend to have it all ways. It doesn’t seem to matter that they make fools of themselves when they pull such stunts, but the harm done to working men and women is nonetheless just as damaging to families, sometimes over the generations. Foxx also is generally against minimum wage laws, believing that the market should determine wages, like most other adherents of the me-first movements, epitomized by the GOP and libertarians, in general.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Foxx does not believe that unions need exist at all, because, she claims, the laws of the country already take care of workers and their welfare and safety on the job. And, she is a staunch supporter of right-to-work (for less) laws. In early March, asked by the Washington Examiner what she thinks of such laws: “I am really pleased that I live in North Carolina, which is one of the strongest right-to-work states. I am glad to see the right-to-work movement growing across the country. I am a person who believes in federalism, so I want the states to do these things as much as they possibly can. I'd like to see where the movement goes at the state level. Then we'll talk about what might be done at the federal level.”

Seemingly without even being aware that she was spouting nonsense again, saying that federal laws will care for workers’ living standards and welfare, even as she and her fellow Republicans purport to believe in individualism and “free enterprise,” and that workers would not need to join together to benefit their families and their class. Republicans believe that that’s only for the rich and corporations. She is the first woman to become chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee since New Jersey Democrat, Mary Teresa Norton, in 1947, so she can go a long way toward turning her opinions into reality. Rep. Foxx likens herself to a well-known North Carolinian, Jesse Helms, perhaps one of the most notorious segregationists and racists who ever wielded power in the U.S. Congress. The so-called right-to-work laws had their basis in racism.

Vance Muse, an unabashed Texas racist, was the founder of the right-to-work movement. The first law enshrining the concept was passed in Texas and here’s what the Institute for Southern Studies executive director, Chris Kromm, had this to say about the movement: “While working to pass right-to-work legislation in Texas, Muse and the Association (Muse’s Christian American Association) took their efforts to Arkansas and Florida, where a similar message equating union growth with race-mixing and communism led to the passage of the nation's first right-to-work laws in 1944. In all, 14 states passed such legislation by 1947, when conservatives in Congress successfully passed Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, enshrining the right of states to pass laws that allow workers to receive union benefits without joining a union.”

Martin Luther King Jr. saw the right-to-work laws for what they were: A failing effort to keep black Americans in their place and to curb the strength of workers when they form unions. His take on such laws in 1961: “In our glorious fight for civil rights, 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…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Indeed, the weapon of workers is the vote, but that weapon has been diminished by Republicans over many years, and it’s not necessary to go back to Reconstruction or Jim Crow. The GOP, for the past several presidential cycles, have done their best to disenfranchise black and brown voters from the voting rolls, no matter how trivial the reason or how ominous the lies and propaganda have been in achieving their goals. They have managed to keep millions from voting, on the basis that there has been massive “voter fraud,” when it has been proven over and over that this, too, has been a lie that keeps on being told, causing untold amounts of taxpayer money wasted and disrupting elections in several regions around the U.S. And all of this has happened, as if there were no party in opposition, the Democrats.

Rep. Foxx, however, could be the poster child of the Trump Administration: disorganized, confused, contradictory, incapable of seeing the country or the world as it really is, contemptuous of anything and everything that working families need from their economy, and contemptuous of the very idea of the principles embodied in the First Amendment, the bedrock of trade unionism, which is the only institution that will haul American workers out of the mire and into the sunlight. Foxx and Trump would keep them underfoot and under control.

Something that gives insight into the character of Rep. Foxx is her nickname in some Washington circles. They call her “Hide Yer Biscuits” Foxx, based on her purported habit of wearing roomy coats to buffets around the city so that she can fill up on whatever is available and stock up on eats for the next few days. It was pointed out on that she did this, while at the same time trying to cut funds for children’s school lunch programs. She’s a perfect match for the Trump Administration. It’s a wonder he hasn’t offered her a White House job. 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.




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1
Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers