(AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)
(AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)

While Doug Mastriano’s extreme positions on everything from abortion to insurrection to defunding public education have received a great deal of media attention over the course of his campaign, much less attention is being paid to his plans to decimate the conditions and wages in Pennsylvania’s workplaces.

Mastriano, the GOP candidate for governor, is a longtime supporter of controversial Right to Work legislation, which is designed to weaken unions and diminish wages and benefits for working families.

As is typical in most forms of dark money legislation, Right to Work makes a false appeal to choice, telling workers that they should have the choice to receive the benefits of union protection without actually joining a union or paying even partial union dues.

But the “choice” is not the goal. The goal is simple: divide and then eventually destroy unions, and take away workers’ rights to collectively bargain. Right to Work is just a means to that very specific end. The language about choice is simply stagecraft, similar to how the right wing extremists who took away a woman’s right to choose by overturning Roe also opposed vaccine mandates during the pandemic while shouting the mind-numbingly ironic phrase “my body, my choice.”

What’s truly important to understand about this and many other forms of extremist legislation backed by Mastriano is that the laws themselves are rarely about the actual goal. The goal of Right to Work is not to give workers freedom, but instead to cripple unions, which at the same time hurts working people, just as the goal of anti-vax legislation is not to promote freedom or choice, but instead to stoke fear and division and reap the political benefits of both.

In state after state where Right to Work exists, the results for working families are nearly identical. Wages diminish, benefits become weaker and more difficult to achieve, and workplace conditions deteriorate.

Steve Catanese, President of SEIU 668, which represents 19,000 working Pennsylvanians, says “Right to Work legislation will devastate Pennsylvanians both on the job and in their communities. Doug Mastriano has made it clear that if he is elected Governor, his economic policy will slash worker protections and destroy the public sector infrastructure needed for our Commonwealth to function. With Mastriano as Governor, working people will be less safe on the job, make less money with fewer benefits, and have less security in retirement.”

However, as wages diminish and working families struggle, corporations and the wealthy benefit greatly from the redistributed wealth they no longer have to pay to employees, and this tells us all we need to know about why Right to Work exists, and why so many Republican legislators and candidates support it. They support it because their donors want it.

While dark money groups and corporate lobbyists continually and brazenly argue that Right to Work laws are actually good for working people, there are two facts that no one on either side of the debate dares to challenge:

It is a fact that Doug Mastriano is a vocal supporter of Right to Work legislation, and it is an absolute certainty that it will become the law of the land in Pennsylvania if Mastriano wins in November.