‘Right to Work’ amendment advances

One amendment opponent made plain his feelings while standing outside of the committee room.

ECM Capitol Reporter

With the chants of union activists ringing outside the State Capitol corridor, a Senate committee Monday, March 12, a so-called Right to Work constitutional amendment proposal passed on a 7 to 6 vote.

The proposed amendment, if approved by voters, would make it illegal to force someone to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“I’m a big believer in ideas,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, after seeing his Freedom of Employment amendment squeak by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

“We passed a big hurdle today,” Thompson said.

The Senate committee hearing attracted hundreds of union activists to the Capitol. Their chants — “Just vote ‘No’”  — and others pealed outside of the committee during much the more than three hour committee hearing.

The decibels increased and fell with opening and closing of doors.

Although Thompson styled the demonstration as “what’s great about America,” other Republican senators struck sterner tones.

“I will not be intimidated by the unions,” said Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, commenting on the “disrespectful” voices outside the committee room.

Thompson styled his proposed amendment as a simple bill — about choice and freedom.

He called union dues a “job tax,” and argued that forcing someone to pay union fees for representation they do not want cut at the heart of economic freedom.

But Thompson’s interpretation of the proposed amendment was not shared by opponents who depicted it as needless, intrusive, a stealth-attack on unionism.

“This bill is intended to, and will, financially cripple unions,” said Minneapolis Police Officers Federation President Lt. John Delmonico.

Among objections by opponents to the proposed amendment is that it legalizes and encourages “free rider,” employees who benefit through union representation, wanted or not, but who would no longer have to pay for it.

For the full story, see the Thursday, March 15 print edition of the Times.