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Bernie Sanders Fights for Labor With New Legislation

Could this be the end of right-to-work laws?

Duane Paul Murphy

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a new bill in Congress to expand and protect workers’ rights nationwide.

The legislative proposal, introduced Wednesday, May 9, is co-sponsored by Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, an openly gay member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, in the United States House of Representatives.

The Workplace Democracy Act would end right-to-work laws and regulations, which allow an individual person to work at any place of employment without being required to join a labor union as a condition of their employment.

This would entail a repeal of Section 14(b) of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act that allows states to enact right-to-work legislation. Currently, 28 states and the territory of Guam have passed and enacted right-to-work laws.

States with the oldest right-to-work laws dating back to the mid and late 20th century include North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, North Dakota, and Utah. States with newer right-to-work laws recently enacted include Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky.

While some experts believe these laws could generate flexibility within the labor markets and attract more businesses, others have found that right-to-work laws are more likely to weaken the economic and political powers of labor unions as well as lower wages for workers.

The bill would also expand workers’ rights and protections to start a union or go on strikes and start boycotts. It further creates legal safeguards from companies that delay or campaign against any forms of labor unionization or organizing in their own workplaces.

The bill has support from representatives such as Keith Ellison and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand and Tammy Baldwin.

Other legislation to further support workers includes the Reward Work Act of 2018 introduced by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, the Senate’s first openly gay member.

This bill, co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Brian Schatz, would make it harder for all corporations to buy back their own stocks on the open market and requires a third of all corporate boards to be directly elected by the company’s own employees.

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Duane Paul Murphy is a D.C. college student and student journalist born and raised in Southern California. Currently studying for his bachelor’s in politics and a minor in media studies, Duane Paul is interested in covering domestic as well as international political affairs that impact the lives of everyday people, whether they are young students, professionals, or faculty in higher education.

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