The Tennessee Senate has passed a resolution in favor of an amendment to enshrine right-to-work protections in the state constitution.
Right-to-work law in Tennessee ensures a person cannot be hired or fired based on whether he decided to join or not join a union.
Joint Resolution 648, which passed the chamber, 24-5, on Monday, was proposed by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, who said he wanted to make it more difficult for future state Legislatures to remove this protection after he saw such attempts in Virginia. Tennessee and Virginia were two of the earliest states to adopt right-to-work protections more than 70 years ago.
There are 27 states that have right-to-work laws, nine of which are constitutionally protected.
Free-market groups cheered the bill’s passage.
"We want to thank every senator who stood up for workers' rights and provided voters with the opportunity to enshrine Right to Work in our State's Constitution,” Beacon Impact CEO Justin Owen said in a statement. “With relentless attacks on worker freedom from national politicians and neighboring states like Virginia, this is the only way to truly protect Right to Work for generations to come."
Democrats argued these bills keep wages lower.
“Tennessee’s economy is threatened by the overwhelming number of working-class families who are stuck in low-wage jobs, who can’t afford to go to a doctor and who are not saving for retirement,” said Brandon Puttbrese, the press secretary for the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus. “Laws, like Sen. Kelsey’s constitutional amendment, make each one of these threats to our shared economic future more dangerous.”
The resolution will now head to the House, where Republicans have a 72-26 majority.