NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The so-called “right-to-work” amendment will be on the ballot come next November. The push led by Republicans will take what is already state law and put it in the state constitution if voters approve.
Labor leaders say this is another attempt to keep wages low and solidify Tennessee as an at-will state allowing people to be fired for any reason at any time.
Governor Bill Lee is leading the charge as chairman of the ‘Yes on 1’ committee to place Tennessee’s “right-to-work” law in the constitution. “We are a reminder that conservative fiscal policy works,” Lee said.
The push was initially led by now federally indicted state Sen. Brian Kelsey and supported by former Republican Governor Bill Haslam a member of the committee.
“This state has had a long commitment to “right-to-work”. 75 years it has been a part of our law and more than half the states in our country has right to work laws,” Lee said.
A “right-to-work” law gives employees the option to choose whether or not to join a labor union.
“We all got a right to go to work and earn money but what most people don’t understand and it’s because of the lack of education— is that they’re just at-will employees— you can be terminated at any time without reason and that’s what the state really wants,” Billy Dycus, President of TN AFL-CIO said.
Dycus said this constitutional amendment is another attempt to use government and big business to control people. “If you go back and look at the south in general — you know you can go way on back it’s always been about cheap labor and that has always been a way to control working people and it scares people with money and influence.”
But Lee says to secure the current economy businesses and workers need the amendment. “When people look at Tennessee I believe they see opportunity, they see freedom for workers,” Lee said.
According to the AFL-CIO president, about 6% of the state workforce will be impacted by the law.
“It’s going to be up to the people of Tennessee to reason about what’s really going on and to ask their selves is this something that really is going to change my life or not and why are we allowing big government and big business to continue to run over working people,” Dycus said.