State Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville posted on Facebook and Twitter earlier this week that he intends to introduce what he is calling an "Employee Freedom Bill" as an amendment to the Minnesota's Constitution. This type of legislation has been in the works across America for decades, and is more commonly referred to as "Right-to-Work" legislation. But don't let the phrases "Employee Freedom" and "Right-to-Work" fool you. Those buzz phrases were carefully developed to mislead. This legislation is simply intended to bust unions.
With fewer and fewer of us as union members, unknowingly we accept the negative stereotype about unions and union members that has been constantly promoted by corporate interests and the politicians who tie themselves to those interests. Together they have spent billions of dollars to promote an anti-union agenda. State Senator Dave Thompson is now tying himself to special interest groups like the MN Chamber of Commerce who spends more than twice as much to lobby our legislators as any union does.
If State Senator Dave Thompson gets his wish and puts this on the ballot for all of us to vote on in November, voters have an important decision to make. We need to decide if we want to accelerate the downward plunge in the quality of life many middle-class Minnesotans are experiencing, the way other states that have these laws of de-unionization have reduced middle-class wages and working conditions.
Do we want more Minnesotans to be without the ability to bargain for decent medical benefits? Do we want to risk losing living wages and prevent employees from being able to bargain collectively for the pay they deserve? Do we want corporations to decide what air is safe to breath and what equipment is safe to operate? Do we want employees to be fired because they complain about unsafe work conditions? Do we want the gap between rich and poor to increase even more and even faster?
Take a close look at the constitutional amendments that will or might be on the ballot in 2012. State Senator Dave Thompson and the other politicians like him will use compelling words to use emotions to get you to support these amendments. But every potential constitutional amendment so far seems to be about taking rights away from people who don't have the power to fight back.
Vote no on any right-to-work amendment.
Steve Quist is a former candidate for the Minnesota Senate and the current chair of the Senate District 36 DFL.