“Dig up Virginia, boys!” Radcliffe gleefully sings, in the underrated (though painfully inaccurate) Disney epic, Pocohantas. He orders his men to work their collective asses off digging for gold that is not there. No breaks. No food.
“No shirking, lads!” Just going at the hard Virginia ground with a pick axe, blood, and sweat. Dig and dig, and diggity dig.
“I’d help you to dig, boys, but I got a crick in me spine,” he lies, feigning pain. “It’s mine – mine, mine for the taking!” Governor Radcliffe sits back, sings, and prances while newly transplanted Virginians work around the clock.
In 2020, not much has changed in the Commonwealth.
This week, the majority of Virginia Republicans and Corporate Cozy Virginia Democrats killed the bill on the floor that would repeal Right-to-Work. Now, this bill was proposed by the red-headed, physical manifestation of a Bernie Bro Reddit page, Lee Carter. Not a guy that has many fans. But – that doesn’t mean the intention of the bill is wrong.
It is time Republicans finally give up their outdated support and tiring defense for Right-to-Work. It gives the right for the state to do wrong.
Republicans have defended “Right-to-Work” as simply a Freedom of Choice matter. It’s just in place so you don’t have to join a Union. Because the big, bad, union bosses from Jersey will come down and force ya to.
Now, this is disingenuous. Everyone has the right to refuse union membership. All “Right-to-Work” does is roll back and restrict rights. It’s the opposite of a free market – it’s the government telling you that you can’t organize. Lump it. It’s no coincidence that the former states of the Confederacy are all “Right-to-Work” states – they still don’t believe in paying for labor.
I am a teacher. I see first hand the injustices of “Right-to-Work.” We are not allowed to strike for better wages or better conditions for our students. We work around the clock – never paid for the work before the day starts, after school, or on the weekend that we do to prepare Virginia’s children for the future. We are lawyers, doctors, psychologists, advocates, surrogate parents for the children we teach. And all this for $43K on average a year?
“Right-to-Work” has a horrible history to boot. It’s founder, Vance Muse, was a swarmy, racist, big business bigot who tried to crack down on unions to suppress Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, and other minorities in America’s rising working class. Especially in the South. He claimed that these laws and measures would keep “racial order.”
This makes equity, upliftment, and rising tide to lift all boats, impossible. It goes against principles and economic empowerment that the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) claims to stand for.
This empowerment and solving racial and wealth inequality starts in the classroom. According to the National Education Association (NEA), states with “right-to-work” laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education. The majority of states with RTW laws are among the lowest performing in the nation. Academic achievement plummets as a result of all of this.
In 2016, whether we liked it or not, America’s working class stood up – in the form of Trump and Bernie. They were willing to turn to a man they did not fully understand, in the words of Alfred, in The Dark Knight. But they did understand this – these men were willing to bend their ear to listen to these concerns – because both parties sold out to Corporate America.
U.S. News ranked Virginia the worst state for workers rights. Even maternity leave isn’t guaranteed in Virginia. It’s time Virginia Republicans realize this ain’t a good look. It’s time Corporate Democrats climb out of the pockets of the Technocrats and Oligarchs. Listen to the people.