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Issue #1764      February 8, 2017

Trumpites’ all-out attack on unions

WASHINGTON: Today Republicans in the US House completed the launch of a three-pronged attack on organised labour. They introduced a national right-to-work bill aimed at stripping unions of the resources they need to fight for workers.

Previously, the head of the House Education and Workforce Committee announced her intention to strip workers of union protections and a case to weaken public sector unions is making way to the Supreme Court.

During his campaign, Trump said “I love the right to work.”

Now that he’s in the White House and his followers control both the House and Senate, those who want to wipe out the union movement probably believe they cannot lose.

They might be in for a big surprise: workers across the country are organising to fight back.

Twenty-seven states already have so called right-to-work laws and several times Republicans have introduced bills to make them nationwide. They have always failed, but Leacy Burke, a spokesperson for Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina told reporters that “we believe that this year, the legislation could garner more support than ever before.”

Wilson, whose state has the lowest percentage of union workers in the nation is co-sponsor of the right-to-work measure, along with Steve King of Iowa.

“The so-called ‘right to work’ laws have never fostered employment, but they do bring out the worst kind of divisiveness,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

By preventing unions from getting dues from workers they represent, these laws weaken the ability of unions to fight for justice on the job.

While Wilson and King introduce their anti-union bill, the new chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Republican Virginia Foxx has stated she believes that her committee will work to repeal measures put in place by the Obama Administration to protect the rights of workers to join unions.

These include regulations affecting union election rules and unit determinations, decisions affecting joint-employer standards, and rules regarding whether graduate students are employees under the National Labour Relations Act.

While unions are under attack in Congress and are being targeted by the Foxx committee, the National Right To Work Foundation is bringing a case to the Supreme Court, a case that started in Illinois. If the case is successful, workers and unions would not be allowed to have “fair share” arrangements.

A similar case, Friedrichs v. California went to the Supreme Court last year. The Court became deadlocked and so the case went back to lower courts. However, it’s expected that by the time the Illinois case reaches the Court, it will have a ninth member and that that member will be Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said that Gorsuch is almost certain to rule against unions. Even though Republicans are attacking unions from all sides, it might not be easy for them to destroy the labour movement.

A new poll by the Pew Research Centre, shows that 60 percent of American adults now view unions favourably. That’s up 12 percentage points since March, 2015.

Moreover, president Trumka says, “Working people are resilient – and just like we’ve patiently worked together to rebuild after the Great Recession, we will continue to come together to say no to any plan to destroy unions.”

People’s World

Next article – Capitalist greed personified

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