Lawmakers Move to Protect Right to Work Status

Date: May 30, 2017


If the Senate—and then the voters—give approval, North Carolina’s right to work law could be enshrined in the state constitution.

House Bill 819 would permanently protect North Carolina’s right to work status from any future legislative efforts to undo it. While it has been the law of the land since the 1940s, it could technically be overturned by lawmakers. The presence of the law is a factor for businesses considering setting up shop in North Carolina, and it’s one of the policy variables considered in studies like Rich States, Poor States—in which North Carolina ranked 3rd best for economic outlook. Under right to work legislation, employers cannot force workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment

The North Carolina House passed HB 819 in April, and the measure is currently with the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations. If the Senate passes it, a ballot referendum would go before voters in the Nov. 6, 2018 election that asks whether voters are for or against: “Constitutional amendment to provide that the right to live includes the right to work and therefore the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor organization.”

“This legislation is vital to continue our state’s reputation as favoring workers’ choice, especially given the broad efforts of international labor unions to undermine current statutes and ultimately open up North Carolina to widespread, economically damaging unionization,” said Rep. Justin Burr, HB 819’s sponsor, in a press release.

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