The extremists’ plot to bust unions

George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU | 6/7/2018, 10:52 a.m.
While the American public has focused on scandals swirling around the 45th president, the corporate and financial elite, through extremist ...
George Gresham Contributed

As is so often true in anti-worker campaigns, race is employed as a key weapon. The right-to-work laws first took hold in the South as a tool to maintain segregation. Vance Muse, an ultra-conservative, white supremacist and corporate lobbyist, is credited with promoting the innocuous term, “right to work.” But the “right” Muse was peddling was segregation. He argued that formation of unions was a communist—and Jewish—race-mixing plot. Anti-union literature from an organization he headed read, “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw clearly the importance of unions in the workplace, declaring in 1961, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights …Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Today, teachers, including in Republican-leaning states, are showing the way, fighting for themselves, their students and their communities. Their voices, which will not be silenced, are being raised for us all. They and all public workers and their unions deserve our total support.

George Gresham is president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest union in New York and the largest health care union in the nation.