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Lawmakers block Right to Work from being added to Alabama constitution

Another attempt to attack the rights of workers and unions in the South has failed.

Alabama lawmakers have rejected a measure that would put the state’s right to work law in the state constitution. Alabama has had a right to work law since 1953. Our opponents pushed the bill in the name of economic development and recruitment.

However, we know right to work is intended to weaken unions and stops workers from having a strong voice to bargain over wages and benefits. Our opponents have been introducing right to work laws in statehouses across the country. The principle is the same - to destroy the rights of workers - but the tactics have varied with various degrees of success. In Kentucky, labor won a challenge after a federal judge invalidated a right to work ordinance in a local municipality. In Virginia, members of the state House and Senate passed a resolution that would give voters an opportunity to vote if right to work should be enshrined in the Virginia constitution. Right to work will take effect in West Virginia in May, making it the 26th state, joining Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, to enact the law in the past four years.  A push is also being made in Pennsylvania to pass a right to work law.

Right to Work and other anti-union laws have been pushed by the likes of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and lawmakers have introduced bills in statehouses verbatim in attempts to chip away at collective bargaining.

 

But most importantly the laws devastate workers and only benefit big business.

 

Workers in states with right to work make $1,540 a year less, when all other factors are removed, than workers in other states. The median weekly earning of the nation’s 107.9 million full-time wage and salary workers was $790 in the third quarter of 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, workers in states with right to work laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with 13.1 percent overall).

The IAFF will keep an eye on what’s happening in the statehouses and provide updates as necessary.

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