Senate GOP makes a power play on Right-to-Work Amendment

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate took an unusual step today by moving a bill from one committee to another before the first committee voted on the measure. The bill in question is a proposed constitutional amendment would allow voters to decide whether workers could voluntarily avoid paying union dues.

Sen. Dave Thompson, R- Lakeville, requested that the so-called “right-to-work” bill be moved from the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s a simple procedural move, but it upends the typical Senate process that allows policy committees to debate and vote on bills that fall within their jurisdiction.

Several union lobbyists said Thompson made the move because there weren’t enough votes in the Jobs Committee to approve the bill.

Thompson said he believes the Judiciary Committee was a better place to consider the bill, and that there would be plenty of debate.

“I don’t have the least bit of concern that the public won’t have an opportunity to learn about this and provide all of the input that they’d like to provide in the judiciary committee,” Thompson said. “I feel that the public will in no way be short-changed by going to this committee.”

The Senate voted 34-30 in favor of Thompson’s request to move the bill. Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, switched his vote from no to yes to reach 34 votes. Gimse said that he switched his vote to help move the amendment along.

“They needed my vote to see the bill progress on to the Judiciary Committee,” Gimse said. “My protest was heard but I want it to go to the Jobs Committee also and follow the legislative procedure.”

Gimse said he hopes the bill goes back to the Jobs Committee at some point. Gimse said he wasn’t sure how he would vote on the amendment.

Every Democrat and Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, voted against it.

Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, said he was disappointed that Jobs and Economic Growth Chair Geoff Michel was willing to give up control of the bill and worried about the precedent that the vote set.

“Let’s find the time and do it the right way,” Metzen said. “I think we’re going down the wrong path here and if we continue to do this it’s a terrible slippery slope.”

The state’s labor unions have been actively working to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment.

If the House and Senate both pass it, the question would be put to the voters this fall.

UPDATE: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the bill on Monday, March 12 at 8am in Room 15 of the State Capitol.

  • Jamie

    Typical slimy Republican tactics. First they let ALEC dictate to them what our laws should be, then they lie about the affect of such a bill on jobs in MN, then they pull this dirty trick to either avoid a committee voting it down, or to give the bill’s opponents less time to be heard on the subject.

  • Jesse

    This should not be surprising. The MN GOP will do anything to kill jobs and lower wages in the state. It was nice to see one Republican vote no.

    Nobody is forced to be in a Union, they are trying to create a law for a problem that does not exist. This leads me to believe the only reason they want this passed is so they can widen the income gap.

  • Jamie

    That, and cripple or destroy unions. They know that at least some people will not join unions if they can get everything that unions offer without paying for those benefits. Which takes money away from unions who traditionally oppose Republicans. Destroying unions is the main goal with this “right-to-work-for-less” legislation. Almost equally important is the goal of lower pay, fewer benefits, and less safety for workers, because Rs want the votes and contributions of owners and management.

  • http://http:www.mnpolticalroundtable.com Minnesota Central

    Hmmm … just curious, is that the same Geoff Michel that announced he would not be running for re-election ? The same one that voted against the Republican majority on expanding gun rights ?

    Hmmm … Senator Michel was willing to give up control of the bill …. or did the Party Leaders tell him to ?

    Gosh, does anyone remember the aftermath of the Transportation veto override …. are the Party Leaders striping responsiblities from a retiring Senator ?

  • Jon

    “First they let ALEC dictate to them what our laws should be…”

    Wrong, Jamie. The people of Minnesota will decide what our laws will be. That’s what this referendum will be about.

    “MN GOP will do anything to kill jobs and lower wages in the state.”

    Actually Jesse, the data shows that both employment growth and income growth over the last 20 years has been higher in the right-to-work state than in the compulsory union membership states. Yes, there are some studies that show that rtw laws lower wages, but there are other scholarly studies that show no such effect.

    In response to Jamie’s second comment, workplace safety is regulated by federal OSHA and Minnesota OSHA. Unions have no role in maintaining workplace safety.

    “Nobody is forced to be in a Union…”

    On the contrary, if you want to hold a job in a unionized company, you have to belong to a union. If you protest, you’ll be paid a visit by “Vito” and “Tony”.

    We can expect more such lies, distortions and propaganda coming from the unions as the referendum moves forward and goes on the ballot this fall. The power of union bosses is threatened and they are going to lash out like the reactionaries they are.

  • HalfNorsk

    Ooh, the mean Pubbies used legislative rules to move a bill along. And the Dems have never done it? C’mon, give us some perspective on this tactic rather than employing a cheap-shot headline and lazy reporting.

  • Pat

    Jon,

    On the contrary, if you want to hold a job in a unionized company, you have to belong to a union. If you protest, you’ll be paid a visit by “Vito” and “Tony”.

    We can expect more such lies, distortions and propaganda coming from the unions as the referendum moves forward and goes on the ballot this fall. The power of union bosses is threatened and they are going to lash out like the reactionaries they are.

    You are good spreading lies,distortion and propaganda.

  • Jamie

    //”The people of Minnesota will decide what our laws will be”//

    If we do a referendum on this, Republicans will do their usual lying and misleading to the general public about what the referendum is about, just as you are doing already in your post here, Jon.

    //”the data shows that both employment growth and income growth over the last 20 years has been higher in the right-to-work state than in the compulsory union membership states. Yes, there are some studies that show that rtw laws lower wages, but there are other scholarly studies that show no such effect.”//

    No, Jon, there’s only one study I’ve heard of that Republicans are bringing up all the time now (given to them by ALEC, no doubt) that is nothing but speculation about the effects of right-to-work-for-less laws. There is plenty of good research that shows that r-t-w-f-l laws mean workers make less money and have fewer benefits and protections than non-r-t-w-f-l states.

    And you’re wrong about workplace safety. Even with OSHA, workers often need protection from management when they are foirced to try to do something about unsafe working conditions. I’ve experienced this myself. When I complained about unsafe conditions, my (then) boss retaliated. UNions help workers make those complaints and they’re there fighting for you when bosses retaliate.

    //”If you protest, you’ll be paid a visit by “Vito” and “Tony”//

    That’s bull. That’s an anachronism and was probably mostly mythical way back when there were a FEW union people who didn’t always play nice. When’s the last time you heard of a union leader getting in trouble? I don’t love everything about my union, and they know it, and nobody from the union has ever tried to pressure me in the least. In fact, they’ve been very helpful.

    //”The power of union bosses is threatened and they are going to lash out…”//

    More bull. Republicans like to throw around loaded terms like “union bosses” to scare people. The only propaganda and lies come from Republicans and their owners and bosses who want to keep workers poor and powerless.

  • David Houle

    Within this current incarnation of the conservative right, is there one elected republican who is not corrupt, dishonest, or lazy. “Pat” and “Jon” are typical Fox news dittoheads. One does not have to be a Union proponent to see that there are benefits that union membership provides. As I have the perspective of being involved in a business that recently went through collective bargaining, I see both sides clearly. For the record, I am not pro-union. That does not mean there is not a place for union labor.

    The purpose of “Right-To-Work” is to (secondarily) diminish the power and numbers of Labor Unions, and, (PRIMARILY) to lower wages, cut labor costs, eliminate accountability with regards to unemployment benefits (termination), and, eliminate OSHA’s presence from the worklplace.

    “Pat” and “Jon” should just stay in Eden Prarie or Woodbury or whatever candy-ass suburb they hide in. “Vito” or “Tony”? Please. The ignorance is staggering.

  • Tony king

    A friend of mine, a salaried supervisor,blue collar worker, works for a union shop that installs and repairs equipment, walked into work recently, and was told that he now belonged to the union. The result of this arbitrary decision, costs him justunder, $6,000.000 a year in dues.

    His statement was, ” I have worked for this company for years, If I wasn’t doing my job, I would have been fired years ago. This whole question is not about union busting. ( Favorite union term), it is aBout workers rights. in my 50 years of active working, I have belonged to three different teamsters unions.If you ask me to recall anything pleasant about those associations, I am sorry, there were none.

    Tk