"Right to work" amendment advances in Senate

dave thompson.jpg
GOP Sen. Thompson: Mandatory union membership "is a job tax, and I don't think we ought to pay a job tax in this country."
The so-called "right to work" bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee earlier today, but it's unclear whether the measure has enough support to be approved by both the House and Senate.

Today's committee vote was 7-6, with Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, joining five Democrats in voting against right to work. Ingebrigtsen helped organize a sheriff's deputies' union in the 1970s

The bill -- which, if approved by both the House and Senate, would appear on ballots this November as a constitutional amendment -- would make union membership non-mandatory. Those opting out of union membership would effectively become free riders since the measure wouldn't hinder the collective bargaining process.

More than 1,500 unionized workers showed up at the Capitol today to protest the bill, some chanting "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, union busting's got to go!"

Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, is the chief sponsor of the proposal. He characterized mandatory union members as a "job tax." Other GOP supporters of the measure said they believe workers who don't support union principles shouldn't be forced to pay dues.

Opponents argue there's no compelling reason to for a right to work constitutional amendment, especially considering Minnesota's relatively low unemployment rate.

The measure still has to pass another committee before being taken up by the full Senate. A companion bill in the House has had no movement thus far.

23 states currently have right to work laws on the books. Studies looking into how right to work laws impact economic growth have reached conflicting conclusions, with some finding right to work legislation stimulates economic growth and others finding no correlation.

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