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VICTOR JOECKS: AOC makes the case for right-to-work laws

Updated January 14, 2020 - 9:15 pm

Congratulations to avowed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for publicly demonstrating how right-to-work laws protect free speech.

AOC is only a freshmen congresswoman, but she’s already a progressive superstar. Her endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders helped revive his presidential campaign after he suffered a heart attack. She has 6.2 million followers on Twitter. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has 3.7 million. Democrat presidential front-runner Joe Biden has 4.1 million.

She wants a revolution, even if — as seen with her Green New Deal proposal — she’s not clear on the details. That’s the political luxury of coming from a heavily Democrat district. Many of her Democratic colleagues in the House represent swing seats, including districts President Donald Trump won in 2016. This has produced all sorts of amusing backbiting within the Democrat caucus.

The tension boiled over again last week, as Fox News reported. Every House Democrat is supposed to contribute $250,000 in “dues” to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. AOC is refusing to pay her share, even though she was the top Democrat fundraiser in the House last quarter.

“Deadbeat Cortez should pay her bills,” one Democratic source complained to Fox News. “She’s always whining about people paying their fair share, and here she is leaving her friends with the bill.”

That’s a good zinger, but you can see AOC’s point. The DCCC works to support incumbent Democrats, including those whom AOC doesn’t think are liberal enough. In some cases, she’s providing funding to primary challengers.

“DCCC made clear that they will blacklist any org that helps progressive candidates like me,” AOC tweeted. “I can choose not to fund that kind of exclusion.”

She expanded in a follow-up tweet, “I also believe that a Dem majority should be transformative, which is why I give strategically.”

Since when did AOC become the spokeswoman for the National Right to Work Foundation? AOC is opposed to helping fund an organization she joined for employment purposes because she disagrees with its political spending. That is the same argument conservatives have been making for decades about forced unionization.

If you join a unionized workplace in a non-right-to-work state, such as California, you must pay dues to the union. You can slightly reduce those dues by becoming an agency fee payer. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it’s unconstitutional to force someone to pay union dues as a condition of government employment. In Janus v. AFSCME, the court used reasoning that paralleled AOC’s logic to conclude that forced dues were a violation of a worker’s right to free speech.

But AOC doesn’t want other people enjoying the free speech rights that she’s asserted for herself.

“As MLK said, so-called ‘right to work’ laws guarantee no rights and no work,” she tweeted in February 2018. “We must guard against the Janus assault on working-class Americans.”

All Americans need right-to-work laws to give them the same free speech option that AOC so vigorously claims for herself.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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