Blog | Right to Work

The Racist Roots of Right to Work

Proponents of "right to work" laws often use lofty language to sell their agenda, with false appeals to freedom, among other high ideals.

But right to work is about freedom only in this way: It’s about taking away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions.

It’s no secret that wealthy corporations and individuals are pouring money into politics like never before to stack the deck against working people and pad their own profits. The State Policy Network, an alliance of right-wing think tanks with a combined annual budget of $80 million, is an example. In a 2016 fundraising letter, it announced a "breakthrough" campaign to "defund and defang" public service unions.

The goal of SPN, the letter reads, is to "permanently break the power of government unions." It cites its opposition to the role that organized public-service workers play as advocates for quality public services and for policies that help working families and hurt corporate bottom lines, like health care and retirement security.

This network of front groups for wealthy special interests has implemented a multipronged strategy to achieve its goal: passing right to work laws at the state and local levels, spreading misinformation and contacting public-service workers directly to persuade them to drop out of their unions, and by using the court system to undo legal precedent and impose right to work nationally. Both organizations behind Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which seeks to make right to work the law of the land and was argued before the Supreme Court in February, are part of SPN.

But what none of them would ever openly say—not even in a letter to donors—is where right to work comes from and what its real agenda is. 

Continue reading at AFSCME.

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