Right to Work Amendment Coming to Virginia?

Guest Blog: Gloria Taylor

This November, Virginians get the chance to further protect their status as a Right to Work (RTW) state. A constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot would put some of the state’s RTW provisions into Virginia’s constitution, preventing future General Assemblies from simply changing the law. The amendment itself prohibits unions and employers from requiring union membership as a term of employment as well as keeping a union from gaining an “employment monopoly in any enterprise.”

Such an amendment would be a huge win for employees in the state. Right to Work laws allow employees to get a job regardless of whether they join a union or not, preserve their freedom and put competition back into the labor market. For example under a union contract, an employee has no freedom to negotiate with the union directly or even accept a raise without the union’s approval. This is particularly discomforting given the fact that unions typically don’t represent workers. A recent Heritage Foundation study shows that 94% of union members never voted for their union. Under current labor law, once a union has been formed, they never have to be re-elected and the NLRB has made the process to remove a union a nightmare. Today some 8 million Americans are left under the control of unaccountable union leaders.

When employees must unionize as a condition of a firm’s employment, a given union has less incentive to negotiate on an employee’s behalf. Right to work laws give the union a reason to act in a such way that an employee would join on their own free choosing providing much needed accountability. In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk shows unions in RTW states pay more attention to worker’s needs.

The benefits of such laws don’t accrue only to workers, but to the state as a whole. Research suggests that the freedom of workers to join a union is a major factor in a business’s decision to open up shop, which in turn increases employment opportunity for everyone. And despite liberal arguments that RTW states pay their employees less, workers actually have the same purchasing power as their non-RTW counterparts and whole lot more freedom.

So hats off to Virginia for considering a measure to further protect worker’s choice and rights on their ballot. Now it’s time for our federal government to follow suit by passing the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 3222). This bill would allow employees to vote on re-electing their union once a majority of their firm’s workforce has turned over and guarantee employees the right to a secret-ballot vote before joining a union, going on strike or accepting a contract.

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