The threats against right-to-work are very real


July 21, 2021 9:48AM

This week, the AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s largest unions, kicked off its “Week of Action.” Its main focus is to push the U.S. Senate to join the House of Representatives in passage of the PRO Act, which would drastically alter labor relations in this country. One of the biggest changes would be the elimination of right-to-work laws in 27 states, including Tennessee. Right-to-work has been a fundamental ingredient in our economic success as a state, so a federal override of this important policy would be devastating economically.

Right-to-work ensures that employees cannot be fired for refusing to join a union and paying dues. Right-to-work protects both those who wish to unionize and those who do not. It’s been the policy of Tennessee since 1947. The PRO Act poses the most direct attack on worker freedom since then. Forcing employees to pay union dues for causes they may not believe in would create a more hostile work environment and give unions a massive handout to fund their radical political agenda.

Fortunately, not everyone is sitting idly by. Tennessee legislators saw the looming threat against our right-to-work law, which has protected individual workers’ freedoms for more than seven generations. In 2020, lawmakers began the process of giving voters the option to enshrine right-to-work in our state Constitution to defend against these new attacks. 

Amending our state Constitution is not an easy task. Legislators must twice pass a resolution to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, the second time by a two-thirds majority. Earlier this year, the legislature completed its part of the process, and now right-to-work protections will be placed on the November 2022 ballot as Amendment 1. 

If voters ratify Amendment 1 next November, it will send a strong message to Washington that the states—not the federal government—should govern workplace freedom. And it will protect our longstanding right-to-work policy not just for present-day workers, but for generations of workers to come. 

Unions have gained tremendous influence with the changing of the guard in the Beltway, and they may garner a lot of media attention through their “Week of Action.” But at least here at home in Tennessee, recent actions show that we still believe in the workplace freedom and individual liberty that right-to-work embodies.