The Origins of Right to Work
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FEATURING CEDRIC DE LEON – A little covered aspect of the bombshell general election on 11/9 was how labor rights fared. Measures on the so-called “Right to Work” passed in Alabama and South Dakota but failed in Virginia. The Orwellian term “right to work” obfuscates what many unions say is “the right to work for less pay.” In fact, legislation called “Right to Work” undermines union power by allowing employees to work in a “closed shop” without having to join the union or paying dues. In effect those workers could take advantage of the benefits of a union job without having to pay for it. Over time, this will ensure unions simply won’t have the funds to keep operating.
Republicans have successfully introduced bills or initiatives state by state based on model legislation from the corporate friendly American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in dozens of states.
But where did this idea come from? My guest Cedric De Leon has just written a history book about it.
Cedric De Leon, Associate Professor of Sociology at Providence College, author of Party and Society, co-editor of Building Blocs, former organizer, local union president, and rank and file activist in the US labor movement. His new book is called The Origins of the Right to Work: Antilabor Democracy In Nineteeth Century Chicago.
**Originally broadcast on November 16, 2016.