Tennessee: A Right-to-Work State Forever
BY JUSTIN OWEN
Tennessee voters did something historic Tuesday. They voted in droves to place our right-to-work law in the state constitution. More than 1.14 million people voted in favor of Amendment 1, resulting in a resounding 40-point margin of victory. The amendment was victorious in all 95 counties, which is remarkable given the state’s political makeup. Despite the opposition being led by various unions out of the Tennessee Democratic Party headquarters, even traditionally union-heavy and Democratic strongholds like Davidson County turned out overwhelmingly in support.
In the end, the amendment passed easily among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike. At a time when the nation is as polarized as it has been politically, this was a rare bipartisan show of force in favor of protecting worker freedom in our state.
I had the privilege of leading the Yes on 1 campaign in support of the amendment. Throughout the campaign, we worked hard to educate voters about what right-to-work really means, why it’s important to protect their right to decide whether to join a union and pay dues or not, and the impact right-to-work has on our economic strength as a state.
Beacon first began calling for making right-to-work a fundamental, constitutional right back in 2019. Politicians like then-candidate Joe Biden had begun calling for a national ban on right-to-work as a political favor to the unions that fund their campaigns. And state legislators in our neighboring state of Virginia twice had to beat back attempts to repeal their law. And after claiming that not even Democrats have touched our right-to-work law in the 75 years since its passage, those very same Democrats proposed a bill earlier this year to undo ours, too. We knew that we could not let these attacks on right-to-work stand, and so we began the multi-year process to make it a constitutional right.
By enshrining right-to-work in our state constitution, Tennessee voters sent the unmistakable message to D.C. politicians that this decision should be left to the states, not trampled upon from afar. And it will prevent future attempts to repeal the law by a simple majority vote of the state legislature. It was a forward-thinking approach to preserving a Tennessee tradition that has—and will now continue—to create jobs and opportunity for Tennesseans all across our state.
We are grateful to the state legislature for placing Amendment 1 on the ballot, to all the state leaders who advocated in support of it, and most importantly, to the voters of the state who voted for it at the ballot box.