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‘Right to Work’ amendment sails through Tennessee Senate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A resolution seeking to change the Tennessee’s Constitution to enshrine the state’s “right to work” law is...
Brian Kelsey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A resolution seeking to change theTennessee’s Constitution to enshrine the state’s “right to work” lawis gaining momentum.

The GOP-controlled Senate passed the measure (SJR0648) on Monday and must now go before the similarly Republican-controlled House (HJR0687).

The resolution’s main sponsor, Republican Rep. Brian Kelsey, says the constitutional amendment is needed because it will make it harder to repeal or weaken.

“This amendment will guarantee future generations of Tennessee workers their right to work regardless of whether they choose to join a union,” said Senator Kelsey.

Supporters point to Virginia as warning, where Democrats recently took over the Statehouse and are now looking to repeal its “right to work” law.

“We want to thank every senator who stood up for workers’ rights and provided voters with the opportunity to enshrine Right to Work in our State’s Constitution. With relentless attacks on worker freedom from national politicians and neighboring states like Virginia, this is the only way to truly protect Right to Work for generations to come.” 

Beacon Impact CEO Justin Owen

Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) voted against Senate Joint Resolution 648, a constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, because the policy rigs the law for companies that want to pay lower wages by sabotaging a union’s ability to negotiate for better pay and benefits.

The amendment passed 8–1 Tuesday on a party line vote in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. The full Senate will hear the amendment next.

“Laws like Sen. Kelsey’s amendment have kept wages low and health benefits scarce for workers everywhere they’ve been enacted — including Tennessee,” Sen. Akbari said. “I believe it is wrong to use the state constitution to tie the hands of future lawmakers who may see value in the rights of workers to negotiate better pay and stronger benefits without interference from politicians.”

These laws accomplish this assault on labor by creating a “free rider” loophole that allows workers who decide not to be a part of a union to fully benefit from union representation — including higher wages, benefits, training, safety and protection from unfair discipline — without having to pay a single penny for it.

– Release from Sen. Raumesh Akbari