Over half of the states in this country — 27 — apply “Right to Work” standards in the private sector.

On its face, right to work sounds like legislators have finally taken issues of employees and protect their jobs. This phrase purports to secure gainful employment, job security and reward hard work. Worker dignity will be balanced with the needs of the employer.

This is where the problem lies. It is defined as: 

Right-to-work laws are statutes in a number of states in the United States that prohibit union security agreements, or agreements between employers and labor unions, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

Using this definition, it is clear the intent is to remove any protections the employee may have in the workplace.

Unions were established to act as the liaison between employer and employee. Through this form of collective bargaining, workers that are able to earn higher wages, pensions, health benefits, vacations and care for their families.

Without safeguards in place like unions, it is akin to slavery in the workplace.

The Comparison

Workers on the Plantations, the slaves, were there for one reason: To make the Master as rich as possible. In capitalistic terms this means profits.

It was either produce or suffer severe consequences, up to and including death. Wages were zero and they were not even thought of as humans. Service was “at the will” of the Plantation owner. This is why Right to Work is considered “at will” employment. Today, no one is losing their life for unproductivity — not directly0. At least we have made progress in that respect.

The business model today have taken a page from the Plantation playbook. Greed is the first chapter. The less you pay an employee or contribute to their well-being equates to more money in their coffers. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This is $15,080 of annual income if you are fortunate enough to work full-time. Slavery nor minimum wage are enough to sustain a living.

Republicans in Congress are arguing to abolish the minimum wage all together. This brings it line more with life on the plantation. The talking point is that an employer should be able to pay as much as they want, there should be no minimum. This is the perfect example of an oxymoron. The reality is, if you remove the minimum wages will drop, not increase.

Take it or leave it

Earnings for the top one percent in America have risen 275% over the past three decades while the lowest earners have seen wages increase 18%. This is the result of “Reaganomics” also known as trickle-down economics. In boot camp you learn the first day what “trickles down”, and it is not money.

For the past 30 years, the American working class is still waiting for the benefits of this scam. In at will employment, an employer can fire you for any reason, even though you may be faultless of anything. Salary saving and profit margins are the only justification necessary. This suppresses workers from asking for higher wages because their livelihood is literally at risk. “Take it or leave it” is usually the response followed by, “I can hire someone else to do your job for less money”.

With no recourse but to “bend over and take it”, it is no wonder morale in the workplace is as dismal as it is.

The solution is obvious. Preference should not be given to either employer or employee. The relationship between the two should be symbiotic. Business cannot operate without workers, and workers cannot earn a living without business.


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Gene Smith

Gene Smith is a Chief Campaign Strategist living in Arizona. He is a Juris Doctor, Democratic Campaign Strategist, Elected Precinct Committee person, and Democratic State Committee Member. Currently, Gene serves on the Environmental Caucus.

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