“Right to Work” a Creatively Worded Catchphrase

Social Studies teacher William Wyss writes, via the OEA blog

Whenever I hear phrases such as “right to work’ repeated loudly and frequently, I know that organizations are trying to convince me to react rather than think. Who doesn’t want the right to work? It appears to logically flow from Thomas Jefferson’s “pursuit of happiness” concept. However, the use of other catchphrases has made me very skeptical.

Shortly after President George H. W. Bush’s famous “Read My Lips, No New Taxes” pledge during the 1988 campaign, his administration unveiled a wide range of “revenue enhancements” as a method to obscure the implementation of new taxes. From the automobile marketing arena, I have often marveled at the transformation of “used cars” to “pre-owned cars.” This creative wording has swept the industry to the point that my students stare at me strangely when I refer to “used car salesmen.”

“Right to Work,” I think, is the same kind of sugarcoated misnomer for policies intended to dismantle unions, effectually giving workers nothing more than the right to workplace conditions once referred to as wage-slavery.

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