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AFL-CIO Now

‘Freedom’s’ Just Another Word for Something Big to Lose

Photo via Flickr by Eyewash Design: A. Golden

If you are in a union, you have the freedom to speak up—without retaliation—about your job, about the hours you work, job safety, how to improve your job and ways to find a work-life balance, and the freedom to sit down with your employer to bargain over your pay and benefits. That kind of workplace freedom is provided by your union contract.

But this week a coalition of extremist groups and right-wing think tanks such as the Koch brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the State Policy Network is urging and assisting workers to leave their unions under a new-speak banner proclaiming “National Employee Freedom Week.”

By the way, every union member already has the freedom to leave his or her union, and keep in mind no one has to join a union to get a job—that's the law.

So what’s behind this latest stunt from the same folks who have pushed bills in state legislatures around the country to weaken workers’ rights and silence their voices in the political process?

It’s pretty simple. Having fewer workers in unions really only benefits profit-driven CEOs and corporations. When workers have less of a say in their workplace, out-of-touch CEOs and corporations can cut costs and increase the bottom line by making employees work more hours for less pay and by offshoring jobs altogether. It’s a power grab by the same people who ship our jobs overseas and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes—shifting the burden to the rest of us. Sponsors of the week include The Heritage Foundation, which advocates for "right to work" for less laws, and Americans for Prosperitya corporate front group launched by the billionaire Koch brothers in 2003, which strongly supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s repeal of collective bargaining rights.

Don’t be fooled—when powerful corporate special interests win, it’s the middle class that loses.

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