The origin of ‘right to work’

And how it came to be. Go read Mark Ames’ entire piece, it has great historical context:

Vance Muse’s fellow traveler in Texas union-busting fascism was a local big business outfit called the “Fight for Free Enterprise” and together, the two groups passed laws outlawing picketing by striking workers and making it easy for anyone to accuse picketing workers of inciting violence, open shop “Right-to-Work” laws, and they even pushed for a Nazi-like law that would force union organizers to wear “identifying head gear (red for the CIO and gray for the AFL).”

Even as millions of Americans were fighting fascism overseas, Vance Muse in his ten-gallon hat bragged to his Confederate plutocrats about the passage of Texas’ anti-picketing bill, saying it would “keep the color line drawn in our social affairs.” In 1944, he told theHouston Post that so-called “Eleanor Clubs,” named in honor of the First Lady, were a “RED RADICAL scheme to organize negro maids, cooks and nurses in order to have a Communist informer in every Southern home.”

Muse’s sister and partner in Christian American, Ida Darden, agreed with her brother, telling the Antioch Review she worried that the Eleanor Clubs…

…stood for “$15 a week salary for all nigger house help, Sundays off, no washing, and no cleaning upstairs.” As an afterthought, she added, “My nigger maid wouldn’t dare sit down in the same room with me unless she sat on the floor at my feet!”

Allowing herself to go still further, the little lady went on to say, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right. It doesn’t pay us to work with Winrod, Smith, Coughlin, and those others up North; they’re too outspoken and would get us into trouble…You’d be surprised how many important corporations support our work.”
– Southern Exposure, Stetson Kennedy

Indeed. That, again, from the sister and partner in the outfit that created the modern Right-To-Work movement which, decades later, just steamrolled over Michigan.

A March 10, 1945 article in the Sunday Morning Star in Delaware reported on Vance Muse’s outfit, as its first “Right-To-Work” successes started to get national attention:

“Union groups throughout the country are asking [for] an investigation of the Christian American Association which has been pushing anti-labor bills in many state legislators. Anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic literature has also been attributed to the Christian Americans.”

In fact, their anti-Catholic literature was so strident that they were all but chased out of Louisiana.

But in Texas it worked: That year, 1945, Vance Muse’s Christian American Association successfully lobbied for Texas’ “Right-To-Work” law thanks to a brilliant smear campaign run by Muse himself: He arranged for a woman called Ruth Koenig, who claimed to be the head of an alleged Texas Communist Party, to testify before the Texas legislature on the Right-to-Work law. Naturally the Communist testified against the law – and thanks to that testimony Muse’s Christian American Association was able to label any Texas lawmaker opposed to Right-to-Work as a Communist. Flyers were printed up warning state residents about “Communists in the Legislature,” listing their names, linking them to Koenig with the header: “Where She Leads Us, We Will Follow.”

Until that day, Texas was on its way to becoming a strong union state, according to Dartmouth’s Prof. Dixon, outpacing other states in the South thanks largely to successful organizing by the CIO. After passage of the Right-to-Work law…well, look at Texas today. It’s libertarian Hell, Koch Industries paradise, home to Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Just how they like it.

2 Responses to The origin of ‘right to work’

  1. lless December 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    In one of these “right to work” states the state constitution should be amended to abolish master and servant employment contracts. Termination at will is the opposite of right to work. One success and the business community will run from this title at break neck speed!

  2. Adams December 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Does Texas want to succeed or to secede? If the former, by all means let them go. And we get rid of GWB in the bargain. Can’t wait to built that big border fence around those xenophobic idiots.

    Texas out, Puerto Rico in. Don’t want to have to redo all those 50 star flags.

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