AFL-CIO: Representative Steve King and the Racist Origins of ‘Right to Work’

Labor News

Reprinted from The AFL-CIO Now by Steve Smith on March 14, 2017.

“Controversial Iowa Representative Steve King is once again in hot water for espousing racist, white nationalist views, tweeting that ‘we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,’” writes Steve Smith in the AFL-CIO blog Now. “He doubled down on his bigoted words over the weekend, telling CNN that ‘I meant exactly what I said.’

“King’s latest racist remarks drew praise from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted ‘GOD BLESS STEVE KING,’ and sharp rebukes from just about everyone else, including fellow Republicans in Congress and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, just to name a few.

“While this story is making headlines, there’s been scant attention paid to how King’s policy agenda reflects his white nationalist views. King is the author of the federal bill that would impose a right to work scheme nationally, which would be devastating to our country’s economy and would hit workers, especially people of color, square in the pocketbook.

“Backed by an array of wealthy corporations and secret deep-pocketed donors, these laws have proliferated in Republican-controlled states across the country, leading to lower wages and fewer benefits for not just union workers, but all workers in those states. People of color—particularly women of color—are hit hardest by these laws, which fuel income inequality and put their American Dream further out of reach. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in right to work states are 3.2% lower than in non-right to work states. Health insurance and retirement security are scarcer. …

AFL-CIO now 3/14

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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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