Enough already with the sanctimonious and dishonest rhetoric from the right this campaign season about who is practicing “class warfare” and who wants to “divide the nation.”
The coordinated attacks by corporate funded think tanks and rightwing politicians on workers and their ability to have a collective voice in unions should provide a clear answer -- as evidenced in the national crusade to push anti-union so-called "right-to-work" laws across the U.S.
"Right-to-work" laws have for years been concentrated in southern and western states where unions have been historically weak, and, thus wages and working conditions far inferior to states with stronger labor traditions.
Indiana is now the first traditional "rust belt" state on the verge of adopting the law, led by Gov. Mitch Daniels, who, not coincidentally, was selected to provide the national GOP rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union speech.
In case anyone missed the connection, Politico gave rightwing icon Grover Norquist lots of ink to make it.
Indiana is not alone. Right-to-work bills are also being pushed in, among other states, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, and Missouri.
There's a pattern here, as a report today in the Pioneer Press about the proposal in Minnesota makes clear:
"The proposed constitutional amendment mimics legislation being brought to statehouses across the nation by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization liberal interest groups claim is pushing corporate-backed bills across the nation."
Corporate-backed? You can't get much more Wall Street and corporate-backed than ALEC, as Think Progress demonstrated last August.
Sponsors of ALEC's annual meeting in New Orleans included not just the notorious Koch Brothers, but a veritable Who's Who of Wall Street and corporate America, including big oil, tobacco, health insurance pirates, pharmaceuticals, chemical companies, Walmart, the National Rifle Association, ad nauseum.What’s the real goal of such laws? To erode the ability of workers to act collectively to improve their pay, benefits and working conditions.
Even Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, hardly a fan of unions, admits that the rightwing claims that “right-to-work” promote job growth have proven to be a fantasy in Oklahoma, the last state to adopt the anti-union law.
While challenging union critiques, the Journal does admit: "Proponents can name few, if any, big employers that moved to the state or added chunks of jobs on account of the law.”
"The fact remains that these laws exist so corporate CEOs can pay their workers less, cut worker benefits and line their own pockets," Minnesota AFL-CIO President Char Knutson said in the Pioneer Press.
To be sure, such laws are not about worker democracy. Unions negotiate improvements in pay, benefits, pensions, and working conditions on behalf of all workers in businesses or workplaces they represent.
Or does anyone really believe the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, Merck, Walmart, Shell, Peabody (coal), PhRMA (the pharmaceutical trade lobby), UnitedHealthCare, Fed Ex, and all the other corporate sponsors exposed by Think Progress really care about worker's rights.
The broader agenda, of course, is to further weaken unions, both so they have less ability to challenge corporate power in the workplace, and to diminish the collective voice of workers, in the corporate-friendly Citizens United era, in the political arena.
Thus the haste to rapidly advance the laws before the next election. Workers in Wisconsin and Ohio have demostrated that aroused workers and their unions can, and will, fight back.
Just think about ALEC and the heavily funded right-to-work push the next time you hear any candidate or politician wailing about who is really promoting "class warfare."