ROSE NOLEN: Right to work is a step backward for labor movement

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Thank heavens, the Missouri legislators got it right — the first time. Some workers are still trying to make it to minimum wage. They are not willing to work for free. Fortunately, most of us Missouri residents are not so politically inclined that we would allow politicians to determine how much money we’ll work for.

I refuse to get into a fight over politics. People in my family worked as domestic help for most of their lives. They didn’t have access to union representation. They worked for whatever the people would pay. That was then, this is now. We’re not going back to yesterday. And although some people are determined to do that, I’m not one of them.

I’ve learned over the last few days that some states have governors and majority legislatures of the same political party. Now, this is no accident. People have manipulated the political system to suit themselves. Citizens should have been more mindful and not allowed this to happen.

Some people believe there should be only the poor and the rich. They don’t believe in a middle class. They only want to have poor people beneath them so that they will be able to dictate to them how they should live. You see, this is how we get into these messes in the first place. Some people are determined to have a servant class to work for them. They want to have people who will do all of their work for peanuts.

Union organization broke up that kind of stuff. People who don’t want to pay union dues are not very smart. They don’t understand that they are playing right into management’s hands. Today, some believe that people don’t want to belong to unions. People believe that they can negotiate with management on their own. They don’t realize that it was the unions that opened the door to all the benefits available to workers today.

The bad thing is that our educational system has failed to teach the history of labor in America. We would like everyone to believe that bosses have always been good guys. There was never any child labor. Workplaces have always been safe and humane. We have always worked eight hours a day, five days a week. There has always been overtime and sick days. No one has ever had to fight for these things.

I think that those who want to live in right-to-work states should be allowed to secede. I don’t think that the rest of us should have to support them. Obviously, they don’t want to be paid enough to have a decent lifestyle. It’s wonderful to have successful industries and businesses move into your hometown, but if it doesn’t improve the lifestyles of the citizens who live there, what is the point?

Most people can guess that right to work will not live long in Michigan. The idea will probably follow the lines of leading a horse to water. After all, Michigan was known as the home of the labor union movement. The contributions of that movement to work in America can never be forgotten.

People who have worked hard all their lives in America will always appreciate the sacrifices of the labor movement. Those who have enjoyed an easy time can never imagine the injustices of the past.

Let us continue to build for the future.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion Editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Michael Williams December 18, 2012 | 7:27 a.m.

Gosh, I wish I had been more mindful of problems associated with putting one political group into such a powerful position. I had no idea that the 2008 election was such a manipulated event. I must have missed Rose's Missourian column advising against such a thing back then. Perhaps someone can provide a link.

As for this comment: "I think that those who want to live in right-to-work states should be allowed to secede. I don’t think that the rest of us should have to support them."

Well, that's a point! But I wouldn't limit such a thing to believers in right-to-work. There's lots of ideas and folks I don't want to support. I think Rose has made an important "wish" here and we should all support the concept of her words.

Do I hear an "Amen!"

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 18, 2012 | 9:59 a.m.

"People who don’t want to pay union dues are not very smart."

This is why I usually don't read Rose's articles. That and the "Democrats can do no wrong" bias. California is a one-party state after the elections, but you don't see her calling them out.

(Report Comment)
Charles leverett December 18, 2012 | 11:54 a.m.

You do realize that unions due may go a political cause that the person may not support? That they person has no choice on where that money is spent. How is it right to make that person pay union dues if he doesn't want to be part of it. the mistake you make, along with every other democrat is believing that with choices none will join a union. Well look at jobs with voluntary unions (like the VA nursing union), they may not have as many members, but they still have members. What this means is that unions will have to sell themselves instead of relying on politicians to force people to join. Make deals with the company that unions members have to be paid more, show the other people how unions will represent them.
Rose this is America, a country based on freedom. The average American is actually reasonable intelligent, we can make good decisions, if joining an union is a good decision then we will do so. Don't act like we are idiots, I'm sick of politicians and political cronies implying that I'm too stupid to make reasonable choices.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 18, 2012 | 12:03 p.m.

Chas. L. - Outstanding!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 18, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.

Charles says, "What this means is that unions will have to sell themselves instead of relying on politicians to force people to join."

Post of the day.

Not that we have many posts, but it still was the post of the day.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 18, 2012 | 7:28 p.m.

I apologize for not knowing already but have you ever had a real world job Rose? From the stuff you write I would have to say no but I realize that there are a lot of people in this work that are ignorant of the fact that it is possible to get a job and keep it and retire from it without the help of anyone.

(Report Comment)

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