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May 1, 2015IM -
by Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D. Special Advisor to the President,
International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO
The move to alter the laws to make all states “right to work” states is gaining momentum. State legislatures overloaded with conservative elected officials who have strong ties to the innocuously named American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are hell-bent on doing away with unions.
Recent successful legislative initiatives in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin to enact “right to work” laws were humiliating to workers and their unions and, in the long run, will contribute dramatically to the suffering of workers and their families. There are another half-dozen states actually considering it.
The protagonists behind these campaigns emphasize that this trend bolsters individual rights. This is yet another example of symbol manipulation where words are supposed to provide comfort. This trend and the individual rights claim couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is hard to believe that there is an entire cadre of folks who are cheering on the sidelines and praising these accomplishments.
It is particularly egregious when the industrial history of these states was that they were strong, progressive fortresses for workers and their unions in their fight for economic justice.
The Holocaust survivor and great humanitarian Elie Wiesel once said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”
We should take sides. However, there is a very strong and not so silent group of folks spearheaded by the billionaire Koch brothers who are the driving force with mega-bucks behind the campaign to change the US in a very significant and destructive way.
Look at what campaigns they have initiated over the last couple of years since the US Supreme Court affirmed the Citizens United lawsuit resulting in a whole new political fundraising initiate that will destroy this nation as we know it. Their plan includes the following:
That is a pretty bold and frightening “to do list.”
We must fight this with all of our fiber. Life as we know will no longer exist. Society will be left with only the princes and the paupers.
Since we cannot match their capital strength, we have to be more creative and activist in our initiatives.
Many international unions are committed to withholding political contributions from those who will support and vote for Fast Track, the new proposed trade deal. This is but one initiative.
The support for workers in this country by elected officials is fading. They have been purchased by the right-wing billionaires.
We have to go well beyond political contributions and appeal to the peoples’ sense of justice and equity and their economic well-being.
In a recent quote, D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE said:
“Politics are important, but I think the most important thing is organizing workers and mobilizing workers. Mobilizing workers we represent, as well as those we don’t represent—because they’re both getting screwed.”
It is time for action. All of the groups that fight for social and economic justice must band together to fight the 1% and take up the fight to mobilize and protect what unions have won for workers over the last century. Our economic lives depend on it.
Take up the fight!