Minnesota Republicans are now trying to make Minnesota the 24th right-to-work state in the nation. Since Republicans control both state legislative chambers, it looks like the party may be able to take this initiative all the way to the voter ballot. In fact, this bill would amend Minnesota’s constitution to ensure right-to-work laws. This development has come on the coattails of other divisive legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio last year. Many state Democrats, including Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, claim that this latest right-to-work push is part of a national Republican agenda to disable the power of unions.
Obviously, this issue shows the division between Republicans and Democrats. But this issue also has divided the Republican Party within Minnesota. The more conservative Republicans say now is the time to protect businesses, and that the right-to-work bill is the best way to boost the state economy through job creation. However, the moderate Republicans are more concerned about the political implications of this bill. Their concern is that such a strong move for a right-to-work constitutional amendment would motivate the unions and the state’s Democratic base to vote out all the new Republicans during the next election. Furthermore, those Republicans are concerned that those unions and Democrats could charge for President Obama in the fall.
What exactly would a right-to-work law do in Minnesota? The current version of the bill would allow workers to avoid paying fees to unions they choose not to join. State Democrats also claim that the law would seriously limit collective bargaining, a claim that bill sponsors claim is simply not true.
However the bill turns out, it is obvious that there will be a strong political reaction. If the bill is passed with a simple majority of both state chambers, the constitutional amendment will be on the ballot for voters. If that happens, will unions push to overturn the measure? If the bill does not get to the ballot, how far will state Republicans push to make it happen next term?
Read more about this issue on the New York Times website.