The war on workers is alive and well. The reelection of President Barack Obama was a blow to those waging the war, but as we watched the events in Michigan recently unfold, it is clear that anti-worker factions will stop at nothing until all the power is in the hand of CEOs.
Extremist billionaires have achieved what seemed unthinkable only a few years ago. They rapidly forced through union-busting laws in Michigan, the birthplace of the modern American labor movement. The passage of right-to-work-for-less in Michigan wasn’t driven by the desire to grow jobs or boost the state’s economy. It will do neither. The record on these laws in other states is clear. Right to work leads to lower wages, fewer benefits, increased poverty, more dangerous workplaces and have no credible effect on job growth.
The forces that rammed the union-busting law through the Michigan Legislature had one thing in mind: political payback. Since 2008, $18 million was spent in Michigan on propaganda deriding collective bargaining by the Koch brothers through their phony front group, Americans for Prosperity, and by Amway heir Dick DeVos through the Mackinac Center. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads SuperPAC and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson joined the attack on Michigan’s middle class by pouring money into the state on behalf of Mitt Romney.
While Republicans spent millions in Michigan alone, their money was no match for labor’s massive get-out-the-vote drive. Republicans lost by 10 points in Michigan, Romney’s childhood home.
After suffering a humiliating defeat in a presidential election they thought was all but theirs, extremist Republicans decided to take out their frustration on Michigan labor. This was not a random target. It was organized labor that made the difference in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, decisively winning those states for President Obama.
The right-wing elite know they cannot win without destroying unions. That’s why they are willing to spend so much money funding the war on workers.
But Teamsters aren’t fooled. We know the value of a contract and organizing new members and we recognize when they are trying to take our rights away from us. They can cloak it in a deceitful name, but we aren’t fooled. Right-to-work laws mean fewer benefits and less money. A Teamster contract means better benefits, wages and job security. It always has.
February 14, 2013, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of my father, James R. “Jimmy” Hoffa. Through his hard work and Teamster contracts, hundreds of thousands of Americans joined the middle class. He wasn’t duped by right to work. As Teamsters, we shouldn’t be duped, either.
The right-wing elite know they cannot win without destroying unions. That’s why they are willing to spend so much money funding the war on workers. –Jim Hoffa