H.R. 835, quietly introduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 1 by Steve King (R-IA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) — while Donald Trump was occupying the media with his first Muslim travel ban — would apply right-to-work legislation across the entire nation. It means that Congressmen who argue that states — rather than the federal government — should get to decide how voting rights are applied and whether schools teach religion, are now making the untenable argument that the federal government that should set the standard for suppressing the constitutional rights of workers.
One corporation employs tens of thousands of workers. When it wants to lobby for rules that make labor less expensive, it has all sorts of options. It can hire a lobbying firm; it can join an industry association; it can rely on giant and influential corporate lobbyists like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
If those workers have something to say about it, the options to exercise their 1st Amendment rights — free speech and petitioning the government for redress of grievances — are more limited. They can write letters to their congressional representatives. Or they can work together, joining a single organization that gives them a larger voice and a better chance of being heard.
Corporations do this all the time; it’s called a trade association. When workers do this it’s called a union, and that is somehow unfair to other workers. Republican logic, not mine.
It’s understandable why corporations want to continually weaken labor unions. It’s less easy to understand why so many working class people have come to believe it’s a bad thing for workers to have a voice — and why they elect representatives who proudly proclaim their desire to destroy the unions that provide such a voice.