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Supporting Tennessee workers means voting against 'right to work' Amendment 1

Alyssa Hansen
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One of the historical figures who politicians on both sides of the aisle frequently reference in their remarks is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As our country celebrates Labor Day, I’d like to do the same.

The following is an excerpt from one of Dr. King’s most well-known quotes related to workers’ rights.

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘Right to Work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…”

These words are of particular importance this year to those of us who are fortunate enough to count ourselves among the members of Tennessee’s labor movement.

While we’re taking the time to reflect on some of the ground-breaking organizing wins in our state throughout this past year, we’re also preparing for the upcoming culmination of a multi-year battle between corporate special interest groups and working people.

In just over two months, Tennesseans will head to the polls to cast their votes in the November 8th General Election.

We’ll decide who should be our next governor, who will represent us in the Tennessee General Assembly, and whether four proposed amendments should be added to our state constitution.

The first of those, Amendment 1, would enshrine Tennessee’s “Right to Work” law in this sacred document.

Today, as we mark a day that is so important to working people, I am taking this opportunity and asking all Tennesseans to vote “NO” on Amendment 1 this fall.

While the term “Right to Work” sounds promising, it’s actually harmful to both union AND non-union workers alike.

Having existed in our state for 75 years, “Right to Work” laws are intended to silence workers’ voices in negotiations for fair wages, safe workplaces, and good benefits.

By enshrining this law in the Tennessee Constitution, many working families will struggle to get fair representation at their workplaces and be at the whims of their corporate employers.

At this point, you may be wondering why state leaders have been lobbying for this measure for nearly three years when “Right to Work” laws are so harmful.

Look no further than the first digital ad released last month by “Yes on 1,” the group that’s advocating for the passage of this amendment.

In it, Governor Bill Lee and former Governor Bill Haslam spend a minute and a half attempting to convince voters why Tennessee’s “Right to Work” law has been so beneficial and why they should support Amendment 1 this fall.

When you’ve got two billionaire politicians attempting to tell Tennesseans how they should vote on a measure that affects working people, it’s abundantly clear who is behind the push: corporate special interest groups, big business, and greedy politicians who are laser-focused on cementing their power and influence for generations to come.

In spite of their claims, organizations that support Amendment 1 like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, and the Beacon Center of Tennessee do not have the best interests of workers in mind.

Instead, along with their supporters, they are most concerned with lining their own pockets and are willing to do it by any means necessary.

These groups and their wealthy backers already have too much power in our state.

Working families deserve to have their needs addressed, too.

Our elected leaders are put into office to represent their constituents’ best interests, not to force their own political priorities on the rest of us. 

Dr. King concludes the quote that I referenced earlier by stating “We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

As a worker and a Tennessean, voting against Amendment 1 allows you to continue to use your voice to counter the corporate giants who are constantly trying to take that voice away.

This November, it’s up to all of us to send a message and stand together in solidarity at the ballot box. 

Vote “NO” on Amendment 1 and protect workers' voices statewide.