House GOP proposes 'Right to Work' amendment

ECM Capitol Reporter

Republicans gathered on Thursday, Feb. 2 in St. Paul to present a proposed constitutional amendment that. if approved by voters. would ban joining a union or paying union dues as a condition of employment.

Sen. Dave Thompson, Republican from Lakeville, heralded the proposed amendment — often generically referred to “Right-to-Work” — as touching at the heart of economic liberty.

Democrats were unimpressed.

“It’s an attack on working folks,” said Sen. Kenneth Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis, a member of the Carpenters’ Union for 35 years.

In detailing the proposal, Thompson stressed what the proposed amendment would not do. “This in no way changes collective bargaining in Minnesota,” said Thompson. “Zero,” he said.

The only thing the proposed amendment would change is that nobody would be forced to join a union, Thompson said.

House bill author Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazzeppa, argued having voters pass the proposed amendment in November would inspire a “renaissance” in job creation in Minnesota.

Republicans argue that Minnesota by becoming a Right-to-Work state would invite an inflow of investment and workers.

Drazkowski suggested the reason Delta Airline, which merged with Minnesota-based Northwest Airline, decided to base its corporate office in Georgia is because Georgia is a Right-to-Work state. He called the proposed amendment the most important pro jobs bill the lawmakers could pass.

The lawmakers argued that the proposed amendment was not anti-union. Indeed, Thompson, in reviewing the legislation, noted that the legislation prohibits employers from making nonunion involvement a condition of employment.

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, a former member of two unions, said the intention of the proposed amendment was “very simple.” Hann believes the amendment will pass the legislature and be passed by voters.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Feb. 9 print edition of the Times.