Say What? "There's nothing we can do that is more beneficial for people's freedom and liberty" than a right-to-work law?

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In an article in today's Star Tribune ("GOP weighs cost of union battle"), Minnesota State Senator Dave Thompson, a supporter of Minnesota's right-to-work initiative, is quoted as saying about the proposed Minnesota right-to-work law, "In my opinion, there's nothing we can do that is more beneficial for people's freedom and liberty, and creating a better business climate in this state.'' Seriously?

I've already criticized the right-to-work initiative in an earlier blog posting, but let's set that aside. Regardless of what one thinks about right-to-work laws, it's hard to take seriously the claim that there is nothing more beneficial for people's freedom and liberty than whether or not one has to pay union dues. What about freedom of speech? of religion? Freedom from discrimination and hate crimes? Freedom from poverty, or at least enhanced prospects for upward mobility? Or if we focus narrowly on workplace issues, there's workplace freedom of speech, greater anti-discrimination protections, portable health insurance, a right to request flexible schedules, and innumerable other issues that would do more for worker freedom and liberty than a right-to-work law.

And for creating a better business climate in the state? What about greater investments in education and infrastructure? A simplified tax structure? What about lawmakers who can work in a bipartisan fashion to solve difficult problems? Or for starters, what about less divisive political rhetoric that avoids hyperbole such as "there's nothing we can do that is more beneficial for people's freedom and liberty, and creating a better business climate in this state'' than passing a right-to-work law.

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Whither Work? is a blog about work created by John Budd. I am a professor of Work and Organizations in the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, and the author of several books including The Thought of Work. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWBudd.