from Dave Oddo, member, Catholic Labor Network
As part of a prolonged assault on labor rights, U.S. Representatives Steve King (R-Iowa) and Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) have recently introduced the deceptively titled “National Right-to-Work Act” (H.R. 785.) H.R. 785, which applies exclusively to U.S. private sector workers, has been referred to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce.
In response, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka stated: “Right-to-work is a lie dressed up in a feel-good slogan. It doesn’t give workers freedom. Instead, it weakens our right to join together and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Its end goal is to destroy unions.”
According to Dave Jamieson of the Huffington Post, “right–to-work laws give workers the option to stop supporting unions, while still enjoying the benefits of representation.” Passage of this legislation would deliver “a severe blow to the labor movement.”
As the American Catholic Bishops have previously written in their Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, “No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself. Therefore, we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably now seen in this country, to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing.”
A 2011 report from the Higgins Labor Studies Program (University of Notre Dame) revealed that, in “right-to-work” states, both union and non-union workers received lower wages and benefits than their counterparts in non-right-to-work states.
Dave Oddo has been a supporter of labor unions since 1968. He was a member of the California Teachers Association from 1983-1992. He resides in San Diego, California.