RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s no secret North Carolina is a “right to work” state and has been for decades.
But some state lawmakers say things need to go one step farther, by changing the North Carolina Constitution to include how unions should be governed. Some state lawmakers say the state needs to do more to ensure that no one is forced to join a union in North Carolina.
The AFL-CIO, a major labor group, says the constitutional amendment would make it more difficult to ever repeal the state’s right-to-work law.
“We do not want, I do not want to see employees, potential employees, have to give up a job ecause they’re forced to contribute or join,” said state Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly County), the sponsor of a bill advancing the constitutional change.
Voters would then decide in November of next year whether to change the state’s constitution.
“It would waste a lot of taxpayer dollars to actually put it on the ballot,” said Aiden Graham, the North Carolina AFL-CIO’s campaign manager.
He said no one in the state is required to join a union right now. The constitutional change, he said, wouldn’t give workers any new protections from forced unionization, but would make repealing the state’s right-to-work laws harder.
“It drives down wages,” he said. “There are fewer protections. The reality is we see the income equality is worse in states where there are fewer unions.”
But Burr, the bill’s sponsor, doesn’t see it that way.
“We have a right to work currently in our statutes,” he said. “This will strengthen that by putting it in the constitution and make sure in the future that it’s even less likely to happen than it is today.”
That debate carried over into a House Judiciary Committee meeting today.
The bill narrowly passed that committee, 6 to 5 along party lines.
It now advances to another committee.