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MLK on Right to Work

The fight against “right to work” legislation goes back to 1968. In one of his speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “That in our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as right to work. It provides no rights, and no work. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. We demand this fraud be stopped.” It is has now been about 49 years, and the same playbook called, “Right to work” to destroy union is still being played. The GOP and corporate Democrats want to destroy unions by taking away the right to collect dues. People still fall for this self-destructive line without looking into what they are forfeiting in the process: healthcare and pensions. Fraud and who are to blame? It is the unions for not educating people, not just their workers? The attack and the fight against it has never stopped. In 1933, in his Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “No business, which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level—I mean the wages of a decent living.” Roosevelt had to fight the GOP and conservative Democrats, also. This is why we must fight for a minimum wage of $15 now even though it should be $24. We also need Medicare for all or single payer for all, pensions, childcare—good unions can do most of these things if workers are organized. Organizer Joe Hill’s last words before being executed in 1915 on trumped up charges were, “Don’t mourn for me. Organize.” Perhaps we should remind our new president and his anti-union cabinet of President Roosevelt’s words or maybe Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s said, “Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join a union of their choice.” Unions are our toolbox to get what is our basic human rights and to stop the runaway inequality. There are some billionaires, Mark Cuban and Nick Hanauer, know this and have some ideas on how to bring an end to the inequality. In 1960, former United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther said, “There is a direct relationship between the bread box and the ballot box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in legislative halls.” This is true today. So, we must always know who we are voting for and if we vote wrong, then we must change as fast as we can before the 2018 election.

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