Spring 2017

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84 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2017 compiled by Jeff Burman C ontroversial congressman Steve King (R-IA) surprised many in March by stating racist, white nationalist views, tweeting, "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." King is also the author of a federal bill, HR785, that would impose a "right to work" law nationally, which would harm our country's economy and would hit workers squarely in their paychecks, writes Steve Smith in the AFL- CIO's blog Now. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in "right to work" states are 3.2 percent lower than in non- "right to work" states. Health insurance and retirement benefits are less likely to be offered by employers. "Right to work" restrictions make it more difficult for working people to stand together in a union to demand fair wages and decent benefits for a hard day's work. The history behind these laws is even darker. Similar attacks on labor unions have roots in white supremacism, adds Smith. "'Right to work' laws originated as [a] means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution," University of Arkansas Associate Professor Michael Pierce explains. "No one was more important in placing 'right to work' on the conservatives' political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than- life Texan whose own grandson described him as 'a white supremacist, an anti-Semite and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labor unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.'" Which brings us right back to King. Supporting national "right to work" is no different than supporting King's racist worldview, adds Smith. LABOR MAT TERS The Dark Origins of 'Right to Work'

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