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Minn. Labor Unions, GOP Fight Over ‘Right To Work’

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota Republicans are preparing to debate a constitutional amendment making union membership voluntary. However, state labor leaders say it’s a “union killer.”

At the headquarters of Minnesota’s largest public employees union, the fight is already underway.

Unions across the state are preparing for what’s called a “right to work” constitutional amendment in Minnesota. They call it: a ‘right to work for less’.

“What we need are good paying jobs,” said Eliot Seide, the leader of Minnesota’s American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “In ‘right to work for less’ states, workers make on average $5,500 less than in the state of Minnesota.”

Union leaders say the amendment is an attack on the labor movement, similar to the last year’s unrest in Wisconsin.

The right to work amendment would effectively make it harder for unions to organize and further erode union membership.

It reads, in part: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not to join a labor union?”

The author of Minnesota’s “right to work” amendment agrees it’s a jobs issue. But he says it’s to make it easier for businesses to create jobs in a tough economy.

If it’s on the ballot, the labor movement is prepared to nationally mobilize to fight it. It’s a fight that’s already started in local union headquarters.

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