More than 1,500 Minnesota working men and women packed the state Capitol hallways Monday to protest a corporate-backed bill that would put a so-called right to work (RTW) state constitutional amendment on the November ballot.
The state Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill (S.F. 1705) by a 7-6 vote, with one Republican joining five Democrats in voting against the bill.
Before the vote, Jennifer Michelson, a nurse at United Hospital and a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association, told Workday Minnesota:
This is yet another unfair and irresponsible corporate power grab that benefits only the 1%.
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson said of the turnout at the Capitol, “there is sizable opposition to this reckless amendment that puts Minnesota’s high quality of life at risk.”
Plain and simple, the more people hear about this amendment, the more they realize that it is a bad deal for middle-class Minnesotans.
Because the measure is a proposed constitutional amendment, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) cannot veto the bill. The bill has to pass both the full Senate and House and it is unclear when those votes may occur.
Working families say the law is unfair, puts them and their communities at risk, has no place in the state Constitution and is unnecessary. Under existing law, no one in Minnesota can be forced to join a union—contrary to RTW backers’ claims.
While study after study shows that RTW laws do not boost job creation, backers continue to claim otherwise. Ursula Tuttle, a Minneapolis registered nurse, told the committee prior to the vote that she lived in Oklahoma in 2001 when voters there approved a “right to work” measure. She told the committee she voted in favor and later regretted it.
I believed it would create jobs. It didn’t create jobs, and we stayed poor.
Since the Oklahoma RTW law was passed, the state has lost about one-third of its manufacturing jobs.