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Will Minnesota be the next "right-to-work" state?

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February 14, 2012

By Greg Janetka

Indiana become the 23rd "right-to-work" state earlier this year

ST. PAUL, Minnesota: Minnesota State Sen. Dave Thompson (R) and state Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R) introduced a bill earlier this month seeking to make Minnesota the 24th "right-to-work" state in the nation. Referring to it as an "Employee Freedom Bill," Thompson said the bill would allow workers to choose to join a union or not, and if they do not join then they would not have to pay dues. The bill would amend the state Constitution and if passed by the legislature it would go before voters on the November ballot. "I'm here to do what I believe is right. If that costs me an election in November, so be it," Thompson stated.[1]

By offering the "right-to-work" bill as an amendment, rather than regular legislation, Republicans take away the possibility of a veto by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. This is the same tactic Republicans used to put a same-sex marriage ban on this year's ballot.[2] Dayton has vehemently expressed his opposition to the right-to-work amendment, stating, "Employee freedom? Freedom to work for substandard wages? Look at the states that have right to work and compare their salary wage levels with states that don’t. The states that don’t have higher standards of living for their people. Better education systems. Better opportunity for people to at least negotiate for decent wages and retirement benefits and health care and the like."[3]

As expected, "right-to-work" legislation is quickly becoming a major divisive issue in several states in 2012. Nowhere is this more evident than Indiana, where House Democrats delayed the start of the session by preventing a quorum in order to slow the proposed legislation. They returned to the chamber on January 9, only to walkout again the next day. Democrats then attempted to offer amendments on the bill and sought to require a voter referendum, both of which failed. Without the numbers to stop the legislation, Democrats returned to the House on January 25 and quickly saw the Republican majority pass the bill 54-44.[4] Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed the bill on February 1, making Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state.[5][6]

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