Even the Right-Wing Washington Examiner Thinks “Right to Work is wrong?!?”


    “Right to work.” For those of you not familiar with the phrase, it’s quintessential right-wing, Orwellian doublespeak, along the lines of “Healthy Forests” (translation: Bush’s “no tree left behind” program), “Clear Skies” (translation: dirty air), “Clean Coal” (translation” the exact opposite, as it’s physically not possible to make coal “clean” in its production, processing, and consumption), “job killing” (translation: almost certainly means it’s actually job creating), “fiscally conservative” (translation: in GOP-world, that’s 99% sure to mean “budget busting” and/or “borrow and spend”), etc. In this case, “right to work” is more accurately described as “union-busting,” “anti-worker,” “right to be poor.”

    Yet somehow, here in Virginia, “right to work” has become almost sacrosanct, something that both far-too-many Democrats (see here for Creigh Deeds intoning that he “always has, always will” support “right-to-work”) and almost all Republicans profess to support. It’s a truly deplorable situation. Heck, even the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine, has said that hestrongly support[s]” Virginia’s “right-to-work law.” And Mark Warnersaid he was a strong supporter of Virginia’s right-to-work law — but, then, workers should have the right to organize if they want.” Oh, and check out House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong pledging not to do anything to interfere with Virginia’s sacred “right-to-work” laws (note current DPVA chair Brian Moran sitting right next to Armstrong, not objecting one bit). Real progressive, huh?

    Why am I raising the subject of “right to work” right now? Very simple: because of the assault on labor’s right to organize – and the mass protests against that assault – that’s going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. With regard to the Hoosier state, Republican Gov. Mitch Danielswarned his party late last year against pursuing so-called ‘right to work’ legislation,” but now is keeping very quiet as his party tries to smash labor power in Indiana via legislation promoting that very thing.

    Over at the (far) right-wing Washington Examiner, Senior Political Columnist Timothy Carney argues that “right-to-work” laws are anti-conservative, as they “interfere with the right of contract and they bar certain consensual economic arrangements — specifically, they bar employers from agreeing to hire only union workers.” According to Carney, “the conservative position is that people should be able to place whatever conditions they like on those who want their property.” Which is why “right-to-work” laws are wrong, from a conservative perspective: according to Carney, “[p]reventing employers from agreeing to a closed shop is no free-market solution.”

    Bottom line: when even super-conservatives like Timothy P. Carney make the case that “right-to-work” is wrong, and when even conservative Republican governors like Mitch Daniels won’t go to bat for this union-busting garbage, it really drives home how radically anti-worker and anti-organized-labor Virginia’s own “right-to-work” laws – and other laws that are unfriendly to labor – are. The fact that many leading Virginia Democrats support “right-to-work” (or don’t oppose it publicly) and brag about how “business friendly” this state is (uh, guys, how about WORKER friendly, ENVIRONMENT friendly, COMMUNITY friendly, stuff like that for a change?!?) demonstrates how far from “progressive” the Democratic Party of Virginia currently finds itself. And they wonder why there are tensions between the party and progressive activists? Duhhhhhh.

    • VADEM

      I was organizing at UVA both Warner and Kaine refused to do a meet and confer eo. We got virtually zero support from dems. They just would not stick their heads out and protect or make it easier to organize public sector in VA. Therefore UVA refused to meet with us and the union failed and put me in the unemployed line. VA will never have any public sector unions and right to work is a forever thing.

      It is good to be in librul California.

    • Teddy Goodson

      on which Mr.Carney hangs his analysis: the sacred right to contract, and, thus, the rule of law. Is this a gift to progressives when dealing with right-wing Republicans and confused Democrats? Why not use it, and use it with those confused Democrats. After all, it’s a free market, ain’t it? Forbidding collective bargaining is government interference in the free market, isn’t it?

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      The false argument used to justify “right to work” laws is that the laws don’t stop employees from joining a union (They can’t because federal law guarantees the right to organize). So, it is always posited as insuring the “right of workers not to be forced to join a union.” The obvious result is to outlaw the union shop in the state.

      I really hate to agree with the Washington Examiner about anything, but Carney has it right from a “free market” perspective. Why shouldn’t I, as an employer, demand the right to deal with one union in determining wages and benefits.

      Democrats in Virginia can’t get away from the anti-union attitude that the old Byrd machine made sacrosanct. Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, you name the Dems. They all bow down at the “right-to-work” altar and swear they are doing it to preserve the rights of workers.

    • From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

      The labor endorsement comes even as McAuliffe affirms his support of a Virginia ban on compulsory union membership-the so-called right-to-work law-and ducks taking a stance on federal legislation that corporations fear will make it easier for unions to organize the workplace.


    • libra

      of defenders of that misleadingly named abomination, it appears that the “right to work” is Virginia’s sacred cow. Or, as Sarah Palin would have it, Virginia’s Holy Grail.

      PS I’ve always thought that “Clear Skies” translated into “No Tree Left Behind”

    • My husband had a conversation with Don Beyer on this more than 15 years ago.  He was, at least during that conversation, convinced that the “Right to work” was more valuable than unions.