“Right-to-work”–one of the greatest misnomers ever heard

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:18 am

Over at PostEverything. I feel very strongly about this one. Not that everyone should end up where I am on this issue of labor rights, but just that the debate should be less fraught with such misleading and phony rhetoric.

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4 comments in reply to "“Right-to-work”–one of the greatest misnomers ever heard"

  1. Jerry Marsh says:

    When will your new book be out?

    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Sometime between end of March and end of April. And it will be free here at OTE!

  2. Jill SH says:

    This has been a perennial issue here in NH and the current conservative Republican legislative majorities will no doubt try it again this term. Our Democratic governor will veto it.

    Opponents of RTW regularly refer to it as Right-to-Work-for-Less.

  3. urban legend says:

    Why have liberals simply taken it without serious resistance? Why do they let Republicans bully them linguistically time after time after time.

    Liberals would instinctively prefer to call it something like the “Right of Employers to Weaken Collective Bargaining Rights” — you know, as excruciatingly accurate as possible and with the maximum use of impressive three-syllable, Latin-derived words as possible. Of course, whether it actually accomplishes any mind changing is not very important to liberals. (We know that isn’t important to Third Way Democrats and their ilk because they really don’t like unions, anyway. “F— the UAW,” said our Chicago buddy Rahm Emanuel.)

    Most real Democrats, however, have always been upset by the “Right to Work” language. But the only alternative I’ve seen is “Right to Work for Less.” Not too bad, but not very punchy, and it hasn’t really caught on. Some top-of-mind (late night) alternatives that may be a bit more powerful — more likely to make self-hating workers in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states with anti-labor laws squirm a little and think more about what is in their best interest:

    Right to Surrender law
    Right to be Paid Less law
    Right to Make Less law
    Right to Cave law
    Right to Wave the White Flag law
    Right to Be Weak law
    Right to Beat Yourself Up law
    Right to Chicken Out law
    Right to Wimp Out law (My first vote is for this one: all one-syllable vernacular with taunt, and it’s “RTW” [or “RTW-O]. “Why do the workers at your factory wimp out, Daddy?).
    Right to Give Up law
    Right to Give Up Ahead of Time law
    Right to Get Cold Feet/Weasel Out/Cop Out law
    Right to Kowtow law (not bad; “not RTW, but RTK “)
    Right to Do As You’re Told law

    Or, looking at the “right” from the other direction:

    Right to Steal from Your Employees law
    Right to Pick Off Your Employees, One by One
    Fair Bargaining Law: You Against the Corporation

    Let the imagination soar, but short and punchy — big letters on a bumper sticker — wins the day. Run a contest in RTW states. Build a groundswell for finally, after all these years, going on the offensive to reverse the worst of Taft-Hartley and other efforts to weken unions. Make the corporations fight back with their usual bogus arguments and make it into a bigger issue than we ever could on our own. Hell, even Robert Rubin now says we must restore employees’ ability to bargain collectively.