Paarlberg: With All Eyes on Trump, GOP Plans to Break Unions for Good

Labor News

Workers at the Shinola Watch factory in Detroit, Michigan. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Reprinted from The Guardian UK by  on February 2, 2017.

“Alternative facts are nothing new; politicians have been making stuff up since they first crawled out of the primordial swamp,” writes Michael Paarlberg in The Guardian. “One of the most successful lies in modern US politics has been that of ‘right to work’ laws, which break unions under the guise of protecting workers, one of which was introduced in Congress on Wednesday afternoon and [may] break unions in the country for good.

“A national right to work law has been a pipe dream of corporate lobbyists, the chamber of commerce, the Koch brothers, and the politicians on their payroll for decades, and is about to become a reality. Right to work laws already exist in more than half the states in the country, where unions are weak or nonexistent, wages are correspondingly low, and workers are correspondingly disposable. In theory, these laws are about guaranteeing workers’ freedom of association. In practice, they’re about keeping workers from forming unions, by making unions financially unsustainable.

“The main lie told by right to work proponents is that such laws put an end to ‘compulsory union membership’. It’s flat-out false; there is no such thing, and hasn’t been since 1947, when the Taft Hartley Act made the closed shop – a type of contract where union membership was a condition of employment – illegal. Nowhere in the US, whether you’re in a right to work state or not, can you be forced to be a member of a union, or fired for refusing to join one. …

The Guardian UK 2/2

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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