Worker Exploitation Laws

  • Protesters holding signs

A group of people decide to go out to eat. Everyone in the group knows that they will receive a bill when they finish eating. Two people in the group decide that the others will need to pay their dinner bill despite partaking in the benefits of the meal.

After reading this hypothetical situation did you perhaps say to yourself “I would never think about doing something like that!”

This hypothetical situation is similar to what people commonly and unfortunately call “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” is a name or slogan thatRight to Work Protest at the Capital1 can be accurately described as a misnomer. Most dictionary references define misnomer as follows: Misnomer {mis-noh-mer} – a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.

First and foremost, each and every person has the right to work or not. It is a decision that we have to make each and every day we get up. A decision of whether to sell our labor to an employer which is how we pay the rent, feed our family and put a roof over our head. But that is not what “right to work” is truly about.

It is not a benign law but rather a law meant to exploit workers and the rights and freedoms they have in their association with their employer. It is a law that undermines Unions and their ability to represent workers to secure better wages, hours and working conditions. These undemocratic laws allow workers to opt out of paying dues which financially support their democratically elected Union. However, employees who opt out still receive all the benefits other workers receive in the form of better wages and better working conditions.

States that have passed these anti-worker laws have not created additional jobs, have no discernible economic benefits and erode the working and middle class. Workers are typically paid less in states that have enacted these onerous laws. Businesses suffer when there is less disposable income from workers.

Perhaps more accurate and appropriate names for “Right to Work” would be:

Worker Poverty Laws

Corporate Agenda Laws

Diminished Quality of Life Laws

Government Interference Laws

Unions have and always will be the great equalizer in our society. They provide balance between employers and their employees. Without them, workers have few rights. These worker poverty laws are supported by large corporations and anti-worker organizations. They are sold to our state and federal elected officials by corporate financed groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Enactment of these corporate agenda laws violates the freedoms and liberties of workers with their employers and diminishes the quality of life in Minnesota. It is contrary to the Minnesotan Ideal.

John Spiegelhoff was formerly the Staff Representative of Wisconsin Council 40 AFSCME in Merrill, WI. He now holds a similar position with Minnesota Council 65 AFSCME in Worthington, MN.