When I hear the Orwellian “right to work” rhetoric, I can’t help but wonder how many old Southerners might have called slavery the “right to work, and live, on the plantation.” There is nothing that even gets close to protecting anyone’s “rights” with these laws. Quite the opposite; the laws are designed to defund, and defang, unions, which are the best possible protection of the right to work. The only “right” a “right to work” law ever protected was the “right” of an employer to squeeze as much blood as can be squeezed from a worker. In addition to the graphic above, the average “right to work” employee can look forward to far more costly medical benefits, far fewer options for things like pensions and disability payments, and a much easier path out the door if the employee should happen to do something like get sick.

President Obama rightly spoke out on this yesterday. It was the most forceful I’ve seen him address workers’ issues to date. Maybe, with the election behind him, he feels less constraints on speaking out. I certainly hope so. After all, it ain’t like the giant corporations had much love for him anyway, is it?


President Obama railed against right-to-work laws Republicans are currently trying to pass in Michigan, arguing that they constitute a “race to the bottom,” during a speech in Redford, Michigan Monday.

Right-to-work laws are “giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama said in his speech at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant.

“What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions,” he said, arguing for the need for high-skilled, well-paid workers. “We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”

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