MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford share his point of view on the debate to designate Tennessee as a right-to-work state in the state constitution.
A messy political fight is about to start at the state capital. It will pit conservative lawmakers and their backers against more moderate to liberal legislators and their reliable supporters – labor unions.
At issue is whether to permanently declare that Tennessee is a right-to-work state, by putting that designation into the state constitution. Republican senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown is the chief sponsor of a resolution that would make that change to the constitution. And GOP leaders fully support it.
But labor leaders around Tennessee and the few Democrats in the legislature oppose the plan.
Personally, I think the resolution is a bad idea – and it’s not because I think labor unions are good, bad, needed or unnecessary. It’s because I don’t believe this kind of political issue should be permanently carved into the constitution. Tennessee’s right-to-work law is already strong. It protects workers who don’t want to join a union. But in essence, the law gives employers much more power than unions.
The resolution would have to pass in two sessions of the legislature – and then be approved by voters. That’s a lot of hoops. But Republicans think it’s worth it. They want to make it impossible to repeal the right-to-work law.
But putting that language in the constitution ties future generations to today’s labor and political climate. I just don’t think we need to do that. And that’s my point of view.