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Letter: ‘Right to work’ actually a misnomer

JOHN SPIEGELHOFF and DALE MOERKE WORTHINGTON -- A group of people decide to go out to eat. Everyone in the group knows that they will receive a bill when they finish eating. Two people in the group decide that the others will need to pay their di...

JOHN SPIEGELHOFF and DALE MOERKE

WORTHINGTON - A group of people decide to go out to eat. Everyone in the group knows that they will receive a bill when they finish eating. Two people in the group decide that the others will need to pay their dinner bill despite partaking in the benefits of the meal.
After reading this hypothetcal situation did you perhaps say to yourself, “I would never think about doing something like that!”
This hypothetical situation is similar to what people commonly and unfortunately call “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” is a name or slogan that can be accurately described as a misnomer. Most dictionary references define misnomer as follows: Misnomer mis-noh-mer - a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.
First and foremost, each and every person has the right to work or not. It is a decision that we have to make each and every day we get up. It’s a decision of whether to sell our labor to an employer - which is how we pay the rent, feed our family and put a roof over our head. But that is not what “right to work” is truly about.
It is not a benign law, but rather a law meant to exploit workers and the rights and freedoms they have in their association with their employer. It is a law that undermines unions and their ability to represent workers to secure better wages, hours and working conditions. These undemocratic laws allow workers to opt out paying dues that financially support their democratically elected union. However, employees who opt out still receive all the benefits other workers receive in the form of better wages and better working conditions.
States that have passed these anti-worker laws have not created additional jobs, have no discernible economic benefits, and erode the working and middle class. Workers are typically paid less in states that have enacted these onerous laws. Businesses suffer when there is less disposable income from workers.
Perhaps more accurate and appropriate names for “Right to Work” would be as follows:

  • Worker Poverty Laws
  • Corporate Agenda Laws
  • Diminished Quality of Life Laws
  • Government Interference Laws 

Unions have and always will be the great equalizer in our society. They provide balance between employers and their employees. Without them, workers have few rights. These worker poverty laws are supported by large corporations and anti-worker organizations. They are sold to our state- and federal-elected officials by corporate-financed groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Enactment of these corporate agenda laws violates the freedoms and liberties of workers with their employers and diminishes the quality of life in Minnesota. It is contrary to the Minnesotan Ideal.
John Spiegelhoff is an AFSCME labor representative who resides in Worthington. Dale Moerke of Luverne is employed by the Western Minnesota/Red River Valley Area Labor Council.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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