Bill introduced in U.S. Senate to kill RTW in every state


“Right-to-work” could become an example of bad legislation from another age if a new bill makes it way to law.

The odds are slim but reports Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation last week known as the “Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act” designed to ban states from making union dues optional.

Warren has become a leading progressive figure over the past few years, frequently discussed as a potential presidential candidate, and she has also been an outspoken critic of so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) laws.

RTW outlaws paying union dues or fees by banning union-represented businesses from negotiating labor contracts that require workers to either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation. The idea is to financially starve unions, which, by federal law, have to represent all workers in a union shop whether they pay dues or not, thereby limiting their ability to negotiate and represent workers.

Warren introduced the bill alongside Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) to end RTW laws outright.


Federal law currently allows states to decide whether they want to be RTW or not. Twenty-eight Republican-controlled states that have enacted the policy – including Missouri, where workers successfully halted implementation of the law by collecting more than 310,000 signatures to put the issue on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide.

Sherman said that RTW “encourages a race to the bottom, as states compete to attract employers by offering weak labor laws and, as a result, lower wages.”


With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, the bill isn’t likely to pass anytime soon. In fact, Congressional Republicans introduced a bill Feb. 1 aimed at making RTW a national policy. President Donald Trump has briefly mentioned his support for it.


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