How Did Worker Freedom Fare on Election Night?
Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, November 11th, 2016 at 5:39 pm - Permalink
By Olivia Grady
Right-to-work measures were on the ballot in three states on Election Day, 2016. And it prevailed in two of them.
In South Dakota, unions secretly attempted to overturn right to work with Measure 23. The proposed law read:
Be it enacted by the people of South Dakota:
Section 1. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, an organization, corporate or nonprofit, has the right to charge a fee for any service provided by the organization.
Section 2. The effective date of this Act is July 1, 2017.
Although Measure 23 did not mention unions, unions are nonprofits that purportedly provide a service. While South Dakota is a right-to-work state, unions still “represent” these workers as exclusive representatives. If this measure had passed, unions could claim that they provide a service as a representative and force non-union members to pay a fee. This would have made South Dakota a non-right-to-work state. Voters saw through this initiative and rejected it 79.7 to 20.3 percent.
In Alabama, voters also supported right-to-work by enshrining their 1953 right-to-work law in the state constitution. This amendment had support from nearly 70 percent of voters.
Virginia was the only state this election season that didn’t pass a right-to work measure. Voters in the Commonwealth rejected a similar constitutional amendment to Alabama by only about six points. Virginia’s 1947 right-to-work law is still valid though, and many believe the question was just too difficult to understand. It read:
Should Article I of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?
The other good news for worker freedom is that three more states could become right-to-work very soon. Kentucky Republicans now control the state house of representatives. They already had the support of the state senate and the governor, making it easier to pass right-to-work next year.
Missouri is another state that will likely pass right-to-work next year. Democrat Governor Jay Nixon had vetoed such a measure, but now Republican Eric Greitens will be the governor. He has vowed to make Missouri a right-to-work state.
Like Missouri, New Hampshire also has a new Republican Governor Chris Sununu, and Republicans already control the state legislature. Without a Democrat governor, New Hampshire may soon have right-to-work, as well.
With a President-elect Trump who supports right-to-work and champions of worker freedom taking more gubernatorial and legislative seats than ever, 2017 looks like a good year for liberty...and a bad year for Big Labor.