MSNBC Host: Right to Work Came From 'Segregationist White Supremacist South'

December 17, 2012 - 11:48 AM

Right To Work Michigan

Angry protests in Lansing, Mich. after lawmakers passed 2 right-to-work bills on Dec. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press)

(CNSNews.com) – MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on Sunday he is “uncomfortable” using the phrase “right-to-work” because it has its origins in the “segregationist white supremacist south.”

“I’m not going to use the phrase [right to work] that is commonly used because it is such a ridiculous—let me just give people a little bit of history here,” Hayes said on his show, “Up With Chris Hayes.” He made the comment in connection with Michigan’s new right-to-work law.

“The phrase is coined by a guy by the name of Vance Muse, who is an oil industry lobbyist in Houston, Texas in the 1930s who is a white supremacist and segregationist, who -- that’s what the term was first brought into use, to fight against unions as sites of forced racial integration,” he said.

“The origin of this movement is an origin of the movement of the segregationist white supremacist south against the labor union as a site of forced racial integration.”

“That’s the genesis of this, just so you understand where this phrase comes from and why I’m uncomfortable calling it by what it is,” Hayes added.

Amid angry union protests, Michigan became the 24th state to sign right-to-work legislation last week.  The law makes paying union membership and paying union dues voluntary for both private and public-sector unions, except for firefighters and police.

Vance Muse, a Texas business executive and lobbyist, is described by those on the left as the “Karl Rove-meets-David Duke brains behind the whole ‘Right-to-Work’ movement.”

Mark Ames, the co-editor of “The eXile,” a Moscow-based English-language tabloid, published an editorial last week claiming right-to-work is rooted in a racist agenda.  Ames wrote that the "Christian American Association," founded by Muse in the 1930s, was “closely associated with the Texas Ku Klux Klan.”

According to the Texas State Historical Association, Muse “believed that organized labor in the United States was the source of much communistic influence,” leading him to support right to work legislation.

The Christian Americans went on to work for passage of right-to-work laws in sixteen states, including Texas.