One step closer to preserving Tennesseans’ Right to Work


June 19, 2020 10:37AM

Wednesday night, a supermajority of the Tennessee House of Representatives passed SJR648, which would put Right to Work in the state Constitution. This follows on the heels of the Senate’s passage of the amendment earlier this year. 

Tennessee has been a Right to Work state since 1947. This means that workers in our state cannot be compelled to join a union and pay dues as a condition of employment. It likewise protects the right of those workers to join a union if they so choose. Put simply, this is about protecting worker freedom.

Studies show that Right to Work states have higher real income growth, employment growth, and population growth. Tennessee is no exception:

  • We ranked 4th in the Fraser Institute’s “Economic Freedom of North America Index” in 2019.
  • We were the #1 state for small business revenue growth last year.
  • We were the #1 state for small business wage growth this past year.

While it is clear why this has been the longstanding policy of our state, there have been numerous efforts to repeal Right to Work, both in the U.S. Congress and even as close as our neighboring state of Virginia. It’s therefore imperative that we protect this right for generations of workers to come and preserve the economic benefits that come with it. The best way to do that is to put it in the Constitution.

What took place this week is the first step in a lengthy constitutional amendment process. The next General Assembly, which starts next January, must now pass the amendment by a two-thirds majority (though both houses already met that threshold this year, even though only a simple majority vote was required). It will then be placed on the ballot in November 2022 to be ratified by voters. According to a recent Beacon poll, 68% of voters say they would vote for it on the ballot when that time comes.