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Voters face 'Right to Work' addition to Tennessee constitution

Voter voting
Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 20:12:25-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — On the November ballot, voters will see the push for changes in the Tennessee constitution.

There's a push asking voters to "Vote Yes" on Amendment 1, which will make it harder for lawmakers to change the current Right to Work law.

Voters will decide whether Tennessee's Right to Work law should be enshrined in the state constitution. Right to Work says employers cannot require workers to join a union and pay dues in order to obtain or keep their jobs.

Alyssa Hansen, with the Tennessee AFL-CIO, relayed that's not a good position for employees.

"I don't think it's normal. Tennessee's right-to-work law has been on the books for 75 years. In those 75 years there has never once been an effort, even when Democrats were in control, to repeal it," Hansen said.

AFL-CIO and the Tennessee Democrat party are pushing a campaign asking voters to vote no.

"I think the point is that it's just it's unnecessary," Hansen said. "I mean, like I said, this law has been on the books for 75 years; there has never literally once been an effort to repeal it. I think it just really shows the misplaced priorities of the supermajority. I mean, we're coming out of the COVID pandemic, Tennessee's still recovering, a lot of people lost their jobs. You know, we're trying to get back on their feet and the supermajority is so focused on enshrining this law in the state constitution, when, like I said, we've got so many other pressing issues that they really should be focused on."

Gov. Bill Lee and former Gov. Bill Haslam are encouraging voters to approve the measure.

The two sit on the Yes on 1 Committee and helped dropped a digital ad encouraging yes votes.

"Our goal is to ensure that Tennesseans, not DC politicians, are the ones deciding whether we remain a Right to Work state," said Justin Owens with the Yes on 1 Committee.

The Committee is behind the push to put Right to Work in the state constitution.

"If you want to join a union and be a union member, you have every right to do that. But in Tennessee, we believe in the freedom of association, so we don't force people to join organizations that they don't want to be a part of and pay for something that they don't want to pay for," Owens said.

Owens said that if passed, the current state law wouldn't change — but it would make it much harder for lawmakers to change it in the future.

"We believe that the best way to defend against that is to place it in the state constitution," said Owens.

To get the Right to Work amendment on the ballot, it passed the legislature twice.

According to the Tennessee Secretary of State's office, four proposed amendments will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

In order for an amendment to pass, the following two things must happen: the amendment must get more "yes" votes than "no" votes, and the number of "yes" votes must be a majority of the votes cast in the governor's race.