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The Right Wing Distorts ‘Freedom’

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders responds to a right-wing critic who distorted the meaning of what “freedom” means to working people.

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The Right Wing Distorts ‘Freedom’
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders (Photo by Raju Chebium)

A week ago, as the nation prepared to celebrate Independence Day, I wrote a column in The Hill about the role labor unions play in promoting freedom. Working people, I argued, deserve the same freedom enjoyed by corporate CEOs: to negotiate a fair return on our work so we can provide for our families.

This got the attention of the anti-union special interests. In a rebuttal piece, Akash Chougule, who works for the Koch brothers, argued disingenuously that the ability of a teacher or a corrections officer to earn a decent living, while having the freedom to go to a PTA meeting or take time off to care for a sick parent, is an “entitlement,” involving “coercion” and a “political agenda.”

When he’s not getting his facts wrong and distorting the meaning of freedom beyond recognition, Mr. Chougule wildly misrepresents so-called “right-to-work” laws and the stakes in a case called Janus v. AFSCME, which could soon come before the Supreme Court.

A ruling against the plaintiff in Janus — who, by the way, is bankrolled by the same people who pay Mr. Chougule’s salary — would not, in fact, force anyone “to fund a political agenda.” It simply would preserve the common-sense status quo, requiring everyone — both members and non-members — who benefits from a union contract to pitch in for the cost of negotiating that contract. That is the longstanding precedent, and Mr. Chougule’s claim that the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that unions may represent only dues-paying members is wholly inaccurate.

(Excerpted from HuffPost. To read the column in full, go here).