When Greg Gianforte recently appeared on "Face the State" with Dave Parker and Mike Dennison, he slipped up and let us in on his plans for undercutting middle-class workers. When asked about Right to Work, Gianfrote dodged the question and simply stated that imposing Right to Work on private sector unions wasn’t one of his top priorities. That answer is very telling.
Gianforte’s response sounds very much like the answer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave while running for re-election. He signed Right to Work into law the second he took office, of course. He had already pushed through and signed legislation that took away the collective bargaining rights of most public sector workers.
What Gianforte didn’t say is even more important; he didn’t mention public sector unions: firefighters, police, teachers, snow plow drivers, county workers, school cooks, nurses, etc. - the people who help hold together the fabric of communities. Public sector employees are in the crosshairs and should be on high alert. At least we now know where Gianforte stands when it comes to the rights of working Montanans. It’s unfortunate, especially given the recent news regarding the National Right to Work Committee’s illegal activities in Montana elections. This would have been a perfect opportunity and time for Gianforte to disavow Right to Work and pledge never to sign any such extremist legislation.
The fact of the matter is that Right to Work laws hurt working middle-class families. Facts are the facts. People in Right to Work states make almost $6,000 a year less than people in other states. Right to Work laws lower the wages of everyone. Just compare Wisconsin to its neighbor Minnesota. Most importantly, Right to Work puts the safety and dignity of workers in danger. In fact, workers in Right to Work states have a 43.8 percent higher risk of dying on the job. Why would we want to bring that kind of legislation to Montana?
Gianforte talks about raising wages in Montana, so why he supports an attack on private and public sector unions is beyond me. If elected governor, he would turn worker against worker and neighbor against neighbor.
Montana doesn’t need Right to Work and we don’t need to elect someone to office who won’t give us a straight answer even though his agenda is transparent. The fact of the matter is that you either think Right to Work is wrong or you don’t. Those of us in the private sector should take no comfort in Gianforte’s non-answer.
Keith Allen is the business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 233.