29 Jan “RIGHT TO WORK” AMENDMENT ADVANCES FIRST COMMITTEE
A proposed constitutional amendment passed its first key committee on Tuesday with a 7-2 vote. SJR648 sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) would add Tennessee’s Right to Work law to the state constitution. Established in 1947, the Right to Work Act is intended to protect the rights of workers in Tennessee who choose not to be affiliated with a labor union or employee organization. At least a dozen Republican Senators and Representatives have already signed on to the resolution, stating that a constitutional amendment is needed to offer greater protection against future repeal efforts. If passed by the General Assembly in 2020, SJR648 would need to pass by a two-thirds majority in both the 2021 and 2022 session in order to appear on the ballot for statewide referendum in 2022. If approved by a majority of voters, the amendment would be adopted to the state constitution in the next governor’s election.
The Beacon Center and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce are two groups that support the measure, suggesting that the statute is a key component to Tennessee’s friendly business environment. According to an October 2019 survey by the Beacon Center, a nonpartisan think tank, 68 percent of Tennesseans favor the Right to Work policy, while 13 percent are opposed, and 19 percent remain undecided.