Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown recently filed a Senate Joint Resolution for consideration by the 112th General Assembly to cement Tennessee’s right-to-work law in the state constitution.
In June 2020, Senate Joint Resolution 648, sponsored by Senator Kelsey, overwhelmingly passed the state legislature, but this was only the first step toward enshrining the law to the Tennessee Constitution. The resolution must now pass by a two-thirds majority in the 2021 or 2022 legislation session in order to appear on the ballot for a statewide referendum in November 2022.
The amendment would become part of the state constitution if adopted by a majority vote in the 2022 governor’s election.
Tennessee has been a right-to-work state since 1947. The existing law says workers cannot be hired or fired based on their membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.
Twenty-seven other states have right-to-work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional amendments, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Virginia, meanwhile, has considered repealing its right-to-work statute.
“Increasing national and state action against state right to work laws has caught the attention of small businesses across Tennessee,” NFIB State Director Jim Brown said.
“In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PRO Act, which would eliminate all state right to work laws and end secret ballot elections, among many harmful provisions. In neighboring Virginia, efforts are ongoing to repeal its right to work law adopted in 1947, and in Indiana, a judge ruled in 2013 that its right to work law was unconstitutional.
“Tennesseans simply prefer choices over mandates,” Brown said. “For these reasons, NFIB strongly supports this legislation, which will strengthen a key element that has made Tennessee an attractive state for businesses and workers.”