HB 1342/SB 650 Set to be Heard Twice Next Week; Ask Lawmakers to Vote "NO"
Earlier this week, the House Commerce Committee passed HB 1342 along party lines with a voice vote.
As a reminder, during a House subcommittee meeting, lawmakers amended a bill whose original caption dealt with broadband so that it now targets economic incentives and how votes for worker representation are conducted at a private business.
For the second year in a row, the supermajority wants to tie the hands of businesses that may want to locate in Tennessee in the future by making them ineligible to receive state monies or be required to return them if any votes on worker representation are not held by a secret ballot election.
Backers of Amendment 1, which enshrined Tennessee's "Right to Work" law in the state constitution, were quick to claim that the issue boiled down to workers' choice of whether or not to belong to a union.
Ironically, this legislation is somewhat counterintuitive in the sense that employees who wish to organize are essentially locked into a secret ballot election (rather than being able to utilize the recognition option of card check) if their employer has received economic incentives from the state.
HB 1342/SB 650 will be heard on the House floor on Thursday (March 16th) for a final vote in the lower chamber. The Senate Commerce & Labor Committee is scheduled to take up its version of the legislation this Tuesday (March 14th) at 1:00 p.m. CT. If you haven't already done so, please take a few minutes to send an e-mail and/or call your state representative and state senator and ask them to vote "NO" on HB 1342/SB 650. House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson are carrying the legislation. These are some VERY heavy-hitters in terms of sponsors, so taking action is critical. Thanks to those of you who have already done so!
The bottom line is this: discussions about worker representation should be left up to employers and employees without outside influence from politicians.
A Brief Look at Some of the Additional Legislation That We're Watching Next Week
Note: There are a seemingly endless amount of caption bills in both chambers since many committees are starting to hear their final calendars. If we learn of one that is particularly harmful to working families, we will share that information on our social media channels and in our next legislative update.
-HB 329/SB 281: Another example of a bad (caption) bill that's filed almost every year, this would eliminate automatic payroll dues deduction for Tennessee Education Association (TEA) members, placing an unnecessary financial burden on the organization. This year, however, a pay raise is deliberately included in the same bill.
-HB 1197/SB 1335: Another attempt by the legislature to exert more control over Nashville, this piece of legislation would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority; the mayor would be allowed to appoint three directors, while all other appointments would come from the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate.
-HB 1176/SB 1326: Similar to the previous bill, this would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Airport Authority; the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate would be allowed to appoint all members, while the mayor would serve as a voting ex officio commissioner.
-HB 1010/SB 707: A proposal that's being monitored by our UA affiliates, this piece of legislation lowers the population threshold for two or more cities to use only one building inspector.
-HB 950/SB 792: Only a couple of years after the legislature chose to cut the amount of time that someone could receive unemployment benefits, this would add to the work search requirements needed to keep those benefits.
-HB 278/SB 166: This bill would allow local governments to set the standards on leave policies for government contractors or businesses in their community.
-HB 396/SB 97: This bill would increase the death benefit in workers' compensation claims to 75% of a person's average weekly wage and makes several other changes to death benefits.
-HB 433/SB 12: Continuing to have a negative impact on public education across the state, this piece of legislation would expand Tennessee's school voucher program to include Hamilton County schools.
-HB 806/SB 1475: Another repeat of legislation that we saw last year, this seeks to expand the definition of racketeering activity outlined in the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization" (RICO) Act.
Note: While unions are already included in the original law and last year's remarks on the bill did not appear to be targeting us, we will be monitoring this closely, especially given the strong anti-worker mentality amongst many lawmakers.
-HB 302/SB 286: In an effort to increase transparency at the Tennessee General Assembly, this piece of legislation would require lobbyists to wear a badge at all times while at the Capitol that shows their name and employer. This is sponsored by two of our endorsed candidates from this past election cycle: Representative Justin Jones and Senator Charlane Oliver.
-HB 712/SB 108: This bill raises the wages of preferred service employees in the Department of Correction by 15%.
-HB 774/SB 681: This piece of legislation would enact the "Protecting Tennessee Businesses and Workers Act," but we are skeptical that this actually benefits workers when lawmakers are quick to note that they are proudly pro-business. We'll be keeping a close eye on this in committee and share new, additional details.
-HB 317/SB 269: Rather than classifying it as a day of special observance, this bill would make Juneteenth a legal holiday in Tennessee.
-SB 940/HB 819: A piece of legislation that's long overdue, this would raise Tennessee's hourly minimum wage to $12.
-SB 850/HB 1263: In 2022, this caption bill was amended to target economic incentives and elections for worker representation at a private business, which is exactly what HB 1342/SB 650 is doing this year. We'll be watching this closely to see if the legislation is altered to continue to target working families.