MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For the first time in recent history, Tennessee voters have a chance to make four big changes to the state’s Constitution.
Amendment 1 is all about your right to work. The amendment would basically add Tennessee’s ‘Right to Work’ law to the state Constitution.
Our state law was established more than 70 years ago in 1947. Tennessee is one of 27 states and Guam that have given workers a choice when it comes to union membership, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Because the ‘Right to Work’ is already a state law, many Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether or not it should be added to the State Constitution.
“If it’s added to the Constitution, it would make it harder for anyone to unravel our right to work status,” said Rep. Tom Leatherwood. “Right now, they would just need to change a law. It makes it easier for the state to defend our right to work status if the federal government tried to strike down our law.”
“It's already in statute,” said Rep. G.A. Hardaway. “It's unnecessary. It clutters the Constitution and our constitution is not a document to be trifled with.”
Some are not a fan of the state law.
Just recently, seven Starbucks employees say they were fired for trying to form a union in Memphis. A federal judge had to step in and ruled in favor of the employees. Because of that, some people question whether the ‘right to work’ law even really protects workers.
“What does this amendment do to us? Any of us out in the workforce? It's not good because you have no protection,” said Rep. Joe Towns.
Some believe that state law protects people and companies.
“I think it protects people in general, it protects workers,” said Rep. Leatherwood. “And, yes, it could definitely be viewed as not protecting, but maybe making a balance between employers and unions.”
It comes down to this, do you like Tennessee’s current Right to Work law? If you do, this amendment will protect it. However, if you don’t and this amendment passes, it will be much harder to change it in the future.
Either way, that’s your decision and your choice on Election Day. Early voting starts October 19. Election Day is November 8.