Virginia Dopers: Constitutional amendment on the ballot: "Right to work"

There is a ballot measure to take Virginia’s current “right to work” law and make it a constitutional amendment. The measure is popular with Republicans and would prohibit making membership in a labor union a condition of employment.

This has already been established in Virginia law for 69 years. My position is that there is no reason to screw around with the constitution over this, making a change much more difficult should the tides of public opinion and the General Assembly change.

Anybody have an opinion to support my view, or try to change my mind?

Hmm I don’t have a good argument one way or another for when a constitutional amendment is appropriate or not. That’s separate from what rules about unions are good or bad.

Like you said, the law is already covering this matter. Some states have very restrictive constitutions that make laws difficult pass. I recall a lot of amendments on the ballot in TX. But they already have the law here.

The only good argument for making it a constitutional amendment is that that’s how we typically showcase the importance of fundamental “rights” for people. If you think the “right to work” without the precondition of paying union dues is an important one, then it probably would be appropriate to enshrine it in an amendment alongside some of your other rights.

Closed Shops are bad.

Laws can be overturned by a court. Constitutional amendments cannot.

The law, as it currently stands, hypothetically could be repealed by passage of a law or by a court decision.

Wisconsin’s right to work law was struck down by a circuit court judge’s ruling under the reasoning that right to work is an unconstitutional taking of the union’s property. Had the law been ensconced in the state constitution it seems such a ruling would be unlikely.

Sure they can (at least amendments to state constitutions).

I’m confused by this. Is Wisconsin back to not being a right-to-work state now?

Aha. I missed that the circuit court’s ruling has been stayedwhile appeals continue.

Meanwhile the unions tried and failed to overturn the right to work law via federal court. And since union shop has been argued to a draw at the Supreme Court, it is not entirely clear how the federal courts might rule in the future once the vacancy at SCOTUS is filled.

Still, the point is that a state constitutional amendment is not so easily overturned by a state court judge.

I’ll admit I don’t follow Virginia politics very closely but this seems like the likeliest explanation. I’d speculate that people who support the law are worried the political tide is changing and are trying to protect the law from a period in the future when it no longer has majority support.

Worked in an at will right to work state my whole life. It sucks on ice. I was always treated badly and like I had zero rights as an employee… and I pretty much didn’t.

The laws in my state has are heavily biased in favor of the employer. If the laws enacted are the same or similar… if you are a Virginia employer, you’ll be happy. If you work for a salary or an hourly wage and if laws like NJs are suddenly enacted, I don’t think you will be.

This has been my experience anyway.

My experience has been the opposite. I live in a right-to-work state for an at-will employer, which basically means I can be fired at any time for any reason, except a handful of protected-class reasons. Still, I feel like my employer treats me well and I consider myself happily-employed. Perhaps it’s because I’m in a rather technical field that is well-paid with various job opportunities.

Probably because right next door in West Virginia the new right to work law was stayed by a Circuit Court judge because of constitutional arguments.

Well yeah, but in that case you’d be doing quite well for yourself regardless of whether your state did everything in its power to destroy the precarious position of unions. It’s the other guys, the guys working the low-wage, low-skill jobs (which nonetheless need to be done) who have to worry about constant job insecurity and shit pay.

For all that the USA worries about socialism, The European court of human rights has found against closed shops and the UK has an outright ban on all of them.

Quite right too, requirnig anyone to join a political organisation in order to work has more than a whiff of the jackboot about it.

This is the proximate cause. Promoting a regular law to a constitutional amendment is a scorched earth tactic to make a legislative change that people can “see coming” harder to make.

Analogous to the anti-gay-marriage amendments that got put into state constitutions in the 2000s. People saw gay marriage coming soon and wanted to hold it off for as long as possible.

It may not be a legislative change, but “judicial activism” that they’re trying to head off. If Virginians are worried that a state judge might declare their right-to-work law unconstitutional, like happened in Wisconsin, one way to “trump” a judge’s interpretation of the (state) constitution is to make an amendment to the constitution that makes it clear what the people intend.

How is a union a political organization? It’s an economic association. And putting aside theory, empirical evidence shows unions work - unionized employees get higher wages and more benefits than non-unionized employees in the same jobs.

Of course it’s a political organization.

Because that’s the way it’s been in Europe. In the UK many Labour MPs are ‘sponsored’ by unions, for instance, and the unions make significant donations to the Labour Party.

Others have answered that for me. Calling them an economic association doesn’t make them non-political either.

but in any case

source is wikipedia and bolding is mine.

Utterly irrelevant to the question of whether someone should be forced to join a union. If they are that beneficial then good sense will prevail and the worker should be free to join or leave as they see fit.

Judging by your comments it looks like you’d be fine with forcing union membership on someone as a condition of employment. Is that correct? If so how do you rationalise that? If not…what are you arguing about?

Does anyone know if the VA laws have seen court challenges recently?