As I had warned, Scott Walker did a lot of grandstanding in the signing of the utterly misnamed Right to Work bill today. On the surface, it looks like a well polished and popular event.
The truth of the matter is a little different.
Look at this picture and see what you notice (and I don't mean that things were so tightly orchestrated that Walker's handler's put tape on the floor so people knew where they were supposed to stand}:
What you should notice is what is missing from the picture - workers. If Right to Work is all about freedom, shouldn't there be workers to celebrate their new found freedom?
Reporter Dee J. Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal noticed this and did committed a flagrant act of journalism by asking about it:
Asked why few if any of his employees were at the signing ceremony, Meeusen said, “This is a Monday. It’s a work day. And most of them are working. I didn’t shut down the whole plant to bring them over here.”
But two employees taking a break outside the building said workers had been told not to attend the ceremony to avoid “embarrassing” the company. The two asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.
Interestingly, Hall also noted that Walker refused to take any questions, which appears to be his new form of punting.
Also not mentioned by Walker is the history of these RTW laws, which originated in the Deep South as part of the Jim Crow movement:
Back in the early 1940s, Vance Muse was an oil lobbyist and ardent segregationist with a history of supporting anti-worker causes. He opposed the 8-hour workday and child labor laws, as well as women’s rights. And he detested unions largely because, aside from believing them to be communist fronts, he was certain their growth would lead to mixing of the races.
Here’s a quote from Muse:
“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.”
Muse was the founder of the Christian American Association, an organization that pushed the right-to-work scam in Texas and other states. He was successful in getting a bill passed in Texas in 1947. Within two years, such laws were on the books in 14 Southern states, which were particularly susceptible to Muse’s race-baiting arguments.
But Muse wasn’t content with the state-by-state approach. At the time of his death in 1950, he was working on a right-to-work amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And despite Walker's attempts to tightly control the messaging, good old Joe Biden called it out for its other aspect - fascism:
Vice President Joe Biden hit opponents of organized labor in remarks to a firefighters union on Monday, invoking a term closely associated with interwar European fascism in describing those who are “intent on breaking” unions.
Biden denounced those blocking the National Labor Relations Board’s attempts “to enforce the basic rules of the road,” saying, “They’re not looking for striped shirts, guys. They’re looking for blackshirts, not referees.”
The blackshirts were paramilitary forces loyal to the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Labor unions were among their targets.
“Republican governors and others around the country are saying you’re the problem,” said Biden.
“There is a concentrated, well-organized, well-paid, well-funded effort to undermine organized labor in the United States of America, and they’ve been remarkably successful,” he added. “Because they know without you, it’s a clear shot for whatever they want. That’s why they’re so intent on breaking you and diminishing your voice.”
I don't know if it's just me, but when I saw Walker's little sign saying "Freedom to Work," I kept reading it as "Arbeit Macht Frei."