Given the Gianforte campaign’s dishonesty about Right to Work, including a refusal to tell an audience what he would do if elected because he was being recorded, the debate about Right to Work has flared up again in Montana’s editorial pages, even as the media refuse to cover the issue with a news report. Yesterday the Independent Record ran a letter from David Herbst, the state director of the Americans for Prosperity group. In it, Herbst repeats the central lie of the Right to Work movement, that enacting the policy is about protecting the rights of workers.
There’s just one little problem with this theory. Were it true, Republicans wouldn’t need to rely on paid commentary from people who’ve never done a day of labor in their lives. Instead, there’d be hundreds of union workers lined up to end the oppression of the labor movement. During the last session, when Republican Art Wittich brought his right to work bill to the House Business and Labor Committee, there wasn’t a single supporter who testified. Not one.
When the issue is debated in newspaper op-eds, it’s not workers calling for right to work, but ideological front groups like Americans for Prosperity and the dishonestly named and Koch-funded Center for Union Facts leading the charge. Union workers, it seems, are quite happy with the labor movement that has brought them relative prosperity and job protections that would evaporate the moment Right to Work was implemented in Montana.
There’s such a shortage of workers willing to support the Right to Work agenda, that the Gianforte campaign is using the same discredited criminal who pretends to represent workers that the Daines campaign used back in 2014 to support its campaign. If the claim that union membership is such a burden and violation of rights was true, wouldn’t Daines and Gianforte have hundreds, if not thousands, of workers to choose from for their campaigns?
The truth is clear: Republicans want right to work laws because they want to gut unions, which offer the best resistance to their efforts to strip workers’ rights and ensure decently paying jobs. And people like Gianforte won’t tell the truth about where they stand on the issue because they don’t want workers to know they have it out for them, that they want to depress wages and make it even more difficult for the working and middle classes to get their share of American prosperity.
On the bright side, if Americans for Prosperity, Art Wittich, and Greg Gianforte do succeed, all is not lost. They’re bringing in an “extreme couponing” expert to events across the state to help people “hard-earned paychecks go further while the cupboards grow fuller!” That program should certainly make all the difference for the workers and their families their policies are designed to impoverish.