King: Right-To-Work 'False Slogan'

Civil Rights Leader Spoke Out On Contentious Indiana Issue

On Monday, the national holiday for the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the fallen civil rights leader's opinions on a social issue of his day is relevant to a present-day discussion in Indiana.

The Indiana Legislature is debating the merits of right-to-work legislation, which would make Indiana the 23rd state to allow all workers to opt out of union memberships, along with attached dues and fees.

King spoke of right-to-work in a 1961 speech, RTV6's Derrik Thomas reported.

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as right to work," King said. "It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights."

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the bill currently being considered by legislators is "consistent with Dr. King's teachings."

"People should have the choice as to whether or not they should belong and pay money to a union or any other organization," said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Chamber of Commerce. "They shouldn't have to be forced otherwise as a condition of work."

King's last speech before he was assassinated was in support of sanitation workers on strike for union recognition in Memphis. The AFL-CIO said there's no way he would have supported the law under consideration.

"He made very clear 50 years ago that right to work is a false slogan. It's a fraud intended to keep people in low-wage jobs without economic power and dignity at work," said Nancy Guyott, AFL-CIO president. "He spoke forcefully that that fraud needed to be stopped."

"Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights," King said. "We do not intend to let them do this to us."

The Chamber of Commerce said wages have risen in right-to-work states over the last 10 to 20 years, but union leaders contest that assertion.

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