Next week, the Tennessee legislature will meet back in Nashville to begin the 2020 legislative session. I wanted to take a moment to share with you one of my legislative priorities for this year.
This morning, I filed a Constitutional Amendment that would add Tennessee's Right to Work law to our state constitution, guaranteeing future generations of Tennessee workers their right to work regardless of whether they choose to join a union. I am honored that Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and twelve other legislators have already signed on to support this resolution.
Tennessee’s Right to Work statute has been state law since 1947. It states that workers cannot be hired or fired based on their membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization. When introduced in 1947, supporters of the bill argued that it would “be of great advantage to the average member of organized labor.” It also protects the rights of those who choose not to join a union.
Twenty-seven other states have Right to Work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional amendments, including our neighboring states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Alabama amendment passed most recently in 2016. Another neighbor, Virginia, is presently considering repealing its Right to Work statute. A constitutional amendment would offer greater protection for workers against such repeal efforts.
If passed by the General Assembly in 2020, SJR 648 would need to pass the by a two-thirds majority during the 2021 or 2022 legislative session in order to appear on the ballot for a statewide referendum in November 2022. The amendment would become part of the state constitution if adopted by a majority vote in the governor’s election.
There is also already strong public support for the resolution. An October 2019 Beacon Center survey reported that 68 percent of Tennesseans favor the Right to Work policy, while 13 percent oppose, and 19 percent remain undecided.
What are your legislative priorities this year? I would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 615-741-3036. It is an honor to serve as your state Senator.