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Wealthy special interests shift anti-worker attacks from D.C. to state capitals

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By AFSCME Staff ·

Union popularity continues to rise, and the country just elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two champions for working families and the labor movement.

Moreover, in the age of the coronavirus, working people have come together like never before. This is especially true of front-line public service workers, from nurses to sanitation workers to child care providers, who through unprecedented sacrifice have quite literally saved our nation.

But as our nation struggles through a once-in-a-century economic and public health crisis, and as our newly elected president calls for unity to overcome our deep divisions, wealthy special interests are trying to sow division and undermine workers’ voices.

In statehouses across the country, they are up to their dirty tricks again. Through front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the State Policy Network (SPN), they are trying to push through legislation that would give them a bigger share of the pie at the expense of working people and their unions.

From Florida to Indiana and New Hampshire, they are launching the same-old attacks that would make it harder for workers to come together in strong unions and speak with one voice. The goal of these bills is to silence working people so we can’t speak up for our communities, our families and the services we provide to keep our country running.

Here is the anti-labor legislation filed recently that AFSCME has unearthed:

In Montana, a Senate bill (SB 89) and a House bill (HB 168) seek to make it harder for workers to form strong unions and maintain their union membership, and for unions to stay financially afloat. They would ban automatic dues deduction. The House bill would require unions to go through a cumbersome process of yearly recertification and workers to sign a statement upon joining a union relinquishing their First Amendment rights.

As if this weren’t bad enough, these bills target front-line workers, the very heroes who continue to put themselves and their families at risk to keep our communities safe from COVID-19. The language in the bills is nearly identical to sample legislation drafted by out-of-state lobbying groups on behalf of their dark-money donors, AFSCME research shows.

In Florida, a Senate bill (SB 78) seeks to make it harder for workers to form strong unions by adding an extra, unnecessary step to the process of signing up to become a member. And in Indiana, a Senate bill (SB 251) attacks automatic dues deduction and exclusive representation for school employees.

In New Hampshire, Senate bill 61 is a right-to-work attack against emergency medical services workers in the state. Right-to-work laws deprive workers of their freedom to join together and form strong unions, and they suppress wages, lower workplace safety and reduce the quality of public services. In addition, right to work has racist origins and disproportionately harms workers of color.

In Texas, legislators who do the bidding of wealthy special interests are getting ready to launch an attack requiring annual reauthorization of union membership, as well as attacks on state workers’ pensions.

None of this is good news – but then again, it’s not news, either. We have faced these attacks before and prevailed. AFSCME will continue to defend against these and other threats to workers and their unions.

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