The following is the text of a speech given by Fred Andrist at a press event against “Right to Work” on March 4, 2015, in Wausau, WI. Mr. Andrist was a teacher for 21 years, 15 of those in Rib Lake northwest of Wausau, a Public School Employees Union Rep for 18 years in Menomonie and Rhinelander, a former President of Statewide Staff Union for six years, a Proud Union Member for 33 years, and a member of the North Central Labor Coalition centered in Oneida County. Fred recently retired.

Picture of Fred Andrist SpeechThere is a lot to dislike about the “Right to Work” (RTW) for less.  For me this bill promises lower wages and more worker deaths and injuries on the job.  History demonstrates that when states go in this direction, wages will go down and workplace death and injury will go up.  Isn’t that why they say it will attract business to Wisconsin?  Businesses will be able to pay less and cut corners on safety, all for the sake of squeezing more out of the marketplace in the name of profits – profits at the expense of the employees.

One only has to take a close look at who is promoting this destructive bill to see its true colors.  It is being pushed by the WMC, which stands for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and ALEC, which is the American Legislative Exchange Council.  This bill, and many others, comes right from the ALEC legislative agenda.

The same legislators supporting RTW for less are the first to cry when we [union members] have support from out-of-state allies.  But they have no problem beholding to a nationwide lobbyist group [ALEC] who purchases their support through campaign donations.  Well, at least our out-of-state supporters are not writing legislation intended solely for corporate America’s own benefit.

A great many people that voted for these activist politicians will be negatively affected by this bill.  It will go beyond just union workers.  Wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, retirees, non-union workers, literally all of Wisconsin, will feel the effect of RTW for less.  And because of that, the number of people that share our beliefs will be going up.  Soon a great many of us will have much in common. For workers that has always been the answer.  Ban together and work in solidarity.  If one knows much about labor history, acting collectively has been the only way higher wages and worker safety has ever been achieved.  The WMC and ALEC do not willingly give profits away.  Only collectively will we ever get what we truly deserve.

We simply are not going to change the minds of many of these elected officials.  Does anyone really believe these politicians will suddenly see the light and change their direction?  The only thing that these people respond to is their corporate donors and getting voted out of office.

We can choose to look at RTW for less as a huge setback, or as an opportunity.  I encourage you to look at it as opportunity to bring more people together and to realize what we already know.  RTW for less and this anti-worker agenda is not good for Wisconsin, and is not what we want Wisconsin to be about.  Unite people to act collectively and work for the common good.