Tennesseans Enshrine Right to Work into State Constitution

NASHVILLE, TN—Tennesseans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to codify the right to work into their state constitution. The passage of Amendment 1, which prohibits unions from getting workers fired for not paying them, ensures that current and future generations of workers in the Volunteer State will have the confidence of knowing that their decisions about union membership can’t be stripped away on a whim by politicians or unelected bureaucrats.

Congratulations to Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and Yes on 1 Committee Chairman Justin Owen for spearheading the effort to constitutionally protect workers’ fundamental right to make their own decisions about union membership – free from union coercion. But most of all, we congratulate those living and working in the Volunteer State.

“One of my proudest achievements as governor of Oklahoma was championing the voter-lead initiative to enshrine right-to-work protections into the state’s constitution,” said former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who serves as chair of the board of advisors for Workers for Opportunity. “Tennessee voters made that same commitment last night, underscoring how fundamental these rights are to preserving the dignity of work and a thriving economy.”

“This vote once again ensures Tennessee will continue to be among the top states in the nation to live, work and run a business,” said Owen, who is also CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a partner with the Workers for Opportunity initiative in educating state lawmakers about the merits of strengthening employee rights. “We thank the voters for standing up for this Tennessee tradition by enshrining it in our constitution,” Owen said.

Tennessee first adopted the right-to-work statute in 1947. During two previous legislative sessions, as required by state law, legislators voted to give Tennesseans the option to solidify right-to-work freedoms permanently by amending the state constitution.

With the passage of Amendment 1, Tennessee joins nine other states that have incorporated the right to work into their state constitutions. These include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Workers for Opportunity is a national initiative of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. WFO’s goal is to advance and protect employee freedoms across the country, ensuring that states recognize and respect workers’ First Amendment rights.

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