“Thucydides” on “Right to work”



Moose McGillicuddy had just opened his tavern on a quiet weekday morning, wanting to do some cleaning before people began to stop in for lunch. He was having a hot cup of coffee sitting at the bar and reading the Daily Standard.

A headline caught his eye: “Legislator introduces RTW bill.” It was Rep. John Becker, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, wanting to impose RTW on public workers. Moose thought for a minute. Didn’t someone else try to do this? Oh, yeah. Another Cincinnati area Republican, Rep. Tom Brinkman introduced a private sector RTW bill. Geez, thought Moose for a minute, there must be something bad in the water there. “They should drink more beer,” he said aloud with a chuckle to, he thought, no one.

But someone responded: “Who would?” It was Tony Monaco, the guy who owned the Italian restaurant down the street. He sometimes stopped in for a glass of wine before the lunch rush.

Moose greeted Tony and poured him a glass of Sangiovese, a special taste from the Tuscany region, that was Tony’s favorite Red.

“Oh, I was just reading about Representative Becker who has introduced a right-to-work bill for public workers,” Moose said.

“Yeah, right-to-work for less or no rights at work,” Tony responded. “That Becker guy is bad news for working people.” “I got a cousin who lives down in Clermont County and the stories he tells…,” Tony said with a whistle. “You know,” Tony said with a chuckle, “some years ago Becker wrote a letter to the Cincinnati paper after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage saying that they should expel Massachusetts and remove a star from the flag.”

“No,” Moose said in disbelief.

“Oh yeah, and there is a lot of other stuff. He favors teaching creationism in the schools, for God’s sake. The guy is so far off in right-field, he ain’t in ballpark or even playing in the same game as the rest of us.”

Moose was starting get ready for the inevitable customers but this was disturbing. Tony went on: “Get this: Remember that controversy some years ago to actually start drilling in ANWR in Alaska and the Democrats blocked that nutty idea. Becker was pissed and, like so many right-wingers, up in arms about the federal government protecting public lands, that he wrote a letter to the paper saying that Alaska should secede from the union so it could exploit its own territory as much as it wanted. Sounds like he wouldn’t be satisfied unless Alaska was one big furnace for the oil executives. Crazy stuff.”

“Damn,” Moose said. “Who elects these guys?” “I dunno,” Tony said, “but I have to run. Pasta calls.”

Moose went to work as the lunch hour neared. Moose’s only offered lunchmeat and cheese sandwiches for a meal but they were good thick sandwiches and the young couple, Joe and Anna, who produced the sandwiches soon arrived and went to work.

Customers began to trickle in and Moose had a good lunch hour. Arriving a little late for lunch were several members of a city construction crew paving the intersection a couple blocks away. Hot from the fresh pavement, the boys were hungry.

While waiting for their food they saw Moose’s newspaper. “Becker again,” one of the workers said. You know about this guy, don’t ya?” he asked the guys sitting next to them. “He can’t stand anybody making decent wages or a good living.”

His partner said, “Isn’t he the guy who proposed having nearly all state employees to carry weapons with them at work and he wants creationism to be taught in the schools. Hey, I don’t want to live in that kind of police state and I want my kids to understand science.”­­

Moose was listening in. Another worker said, “It is like all he is interested in is union-busting, bathrooms, and guns. That’s a great combination. Becker’s the guy all worked up over the bathroom issue. Look, I don’t care who uses the bathroom,” adding with a chuckle, “just make sure you wash your hands.” The guys laughed and dug into their sandwiches.

“But, seriously man, what is this right-to-work stuff?” one said. “My dad explained it to me once. The people at a workplace vote in a democratic process that is carefully monitored by the feds to establish the union. Everyone has to be part of the bargaining unit or the employer would just give out sweetheart deals to individuals to break the union. And since the union does provide service, negotiates your contract, and controls the working conditions, of course, you should pay your fair share for that.”

“Sounds like you understand this perfectly,” Moose leaned in. “The thing I’ve never understood,” he went on, “is why some people think it is somehow fair for one anti-union person to get his way against the rest of his fellow employees. Majorities make decisions for all of us in America, right? And this is workplace democracy and here you have these jokers always trying to undermine freedom.”

“Sounds like YOU understand this, Moose,” responded one of the workers.

“Well,” Moose said, “I want people to have money to spend and unions do that for people.”

“You are right there,” responded one of the workers, “I’m sure our wages would plummet and we’d have no health insurance without our union.”

“The street wouldn’t get paved either. Sounds like Becker’s world,” Moose said with a grin. The group agreed as they finished off their sandwiches, paid for the sandwiches and got back to work.

Another patron, Sherry Strelnik, who had been sitting at the bar and listening in, spoke up to Moose. “I heard you talking about the terrible right-to-work bill. And the bizarre thing to me is that guys like Becker and Brinkman don’t seem to have learned anything from Senate Bill 5. Change is hard and is especially hard when you are an ideologically-driven extremist.” Sherry took a good drink from her gin-and-tonic. Moose could tell she was upset.

“For the entertainment or horror value, you should go to Becker’s website and read the Becker Report. He has one video on there that is just savage about Muslims, telling that old lie about Sharia law imposed in European cities and fantasies about liberals favoring a one-world government. Can you believe he actually argued on the House floor against federal government spending on medical research?”

“In one long post back in the summer 2015 he called ‘The Becker Doctrine,’ he expressed Confederate sympathies. ‘To argue that the so-called Civil War settled the issue of secession is to argue that ‘might makes right,’ Becker wrote and he goes on to call the federal government a cancer and compares it to the “Borg” from Star Trek. At one point, he rhetorically asks an obvious question: ‘Look Becker, everybody already thinks that you’re a right-wing nut case. Doesn’t this remove all doubt?’ Most people after reading this nonsense would answer “yes” but naturally Becker gives the wrong answer involving some gobbledygoop about personally being inspired by Thomas Jefferson – who, of course, doubled the size of the United States in the Lousiana Purchase defeating any kind of small government fantasized about by right-wingers.”

Strelnik, a retired librarian, had to stop to take a breath and another suck from her GNT. She began again, shaking his head: “I hate this kind of comic book history. And some other wacky videos by Ted Stevenot. Remember him, the Tea Party leader, who said he was going to run against Kasich in the primary–-but pulled out a week later. I’m sure these guys are wearing their tin foil hats and looking for the black helicopters,” she said with a chuckle, “but it just amazes me how they can be working so hard against the welfare of ordinary people in Ohio.”

Moose thought for a moment. “Well, we know what happened in SB 5 and there were RTW components in SB 5. Maybe they will need to hear from the people again. And maybe Becker and Brinkman will listen this time. It is still a democracy after all.”