Election Day is fast approaching, and Virginians are being asked to vote on a variety of offices and measures. One of those measures would enshrine in the state constitution the prohibition on mandating union membership as a condition of employment.
This provision, known as “right to work,” is already state law, so approval of this ballot measure would not change business practices in the commonwealth. However, if placed in the state constitution this measure could not be overturned by legislators in the future. Rep. Richard Bell, who sponsored the bill to put this question to a vote, said it is important to give the right to work constitutional protection. According to him, “we are protecting it from the whims of the legislature and thus ensuring it can remain in place for generations to come.”
Others, such as Senator George Barkers, disagreed, saying, “This amendment is downright unnecessary. Right to work laws have been on the books in Virginia for over 70 years. It is ironic that Republicans frequently accuse Democrats of government overreach, and yet they feel it appropriate to reflect in the Constitution something that has been practice for so long.”
If approved by voters, this section would be added to Virginia’s constitution:
“Any agreement or combination between any employer and any labor union or labor organization whereby nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, or whereby such membership is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or whereby any such union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any enterprise, is against public policy and constitutes an illegal combination or conspiracy and is void.”
The first resolution to place the measure on the ballot passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 64-29 and the Senate by a vote of 21-17. However, legislators must pass resolutions in two successive years to place a question on the ballot. The final resolution to do so passed the Senate by a vote of 21-19 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 64-34.
Do you support amending the state constitution to ban mandatory union contracts?