Thursday, November 7, 2013

Right-to-work-for-less amendment fails in Senate

Two of Congress’s most reliably anti-worker senators have a simple message for American workers: Love whoever you want, just don’t love unions.

Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul proposed to make an anti-discrimination bill more discriminatory by attaching a national right-to-work-for-less law to the legislation.

If enacted, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity. For McConnell and Paul, that’s a small price to pay in exchange for a national right-to-work-for-less law, which would effectively kill freedom in the workplace by crippling unions across the country.

Fortunately, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Thursday afternoon without the McConnell-Paul attack on workers. But let's take a moment to dissect exactly what they were trying to do.

The Huffington Post reports:
The measure would forbid contracts between companies and labor unions that require workers to pay the union for bargaining on their behalf. Prized by Republicans and business groups and loathed by unions, such laws have made it onto the books in 24 states, most recently in Michigan.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell praised Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who signed the state law in December after it was fast-tracked through the Republican-controlled legislature. McConnell said he and Paul were following Snyder's lead. 
Funny how two guys – Rand Paul especially – who think government is bad suddenly think government is a good tool for interfering with unions' ability to function and shrinking the middle class.

That’s exactly what right-to-work-for-less laws aim to accomplish. When McConnell says he wants to diminish the power of “Big Labor,” he wants us to forget that that he’s doing the bidding of billionaires and corporate CEOs determined to expand profits by exploiting workers.

The only kind of freedom that “right to work” laws promote is the freedom of corporations to ship more jobs overseas and treat workers as disposable objects with no rights worthy of the boss’s respect. Unions are the only force standing in the way of Wall Street and its dream of a world where workers are voiceless and impoverished.

Hence McConnell and Paul’s cynical ploy to tack a national “right to work” amendment on to a bill that’s supposed to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. Earlier this week, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa urged the members of Congress to look in their hearts and move ENDA legislation forward, as the Senate has:
Workers for more than a century have joined forces to protect each other from intolerance and favoritism. We support ENDA because we stand for fair treatment of all workers, as we always have. Workers cannot be divided for any reason, whether it be race, religion, ethnicity, gender or any other basis.
Dividing workers is exactly what McConnell and Paul were trying to do. And it shows how serious these corporate flunkies are about quashing freedom and America’s middle class.