Right to Work Proposal Attacks Workers, State Constitution
Press Contact: Wes Trotterchaud Phone: (865) 300-0558 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(NASHVILLE) – With one week to go until Election Day, Teamsters across Tennessee are ferociously opposing Amendment 1, which would enshrine so-called “right to work” into the state constitution.
“The more people learn about Amendment 1 and what it actually means, the more uncomfortable they are with it,” said Wes Trotterchaud, President of Teamsters Local 519 in Knoxville. “Our members, whether Republican or Democrat, are turned off by what the General Assembly tried to do in referring Amendment 1 to the ballot.”
As Teamsters and labor allies make their final pitch to voters on why Amendment 1 needs to be rejected, there are recent signs that support for Amendment 1 may be faltering among registered voters. A January poll had support for Amendment 1 at 64 percent, followed by an early October poll with support at 58 percent. Finally, a recent poll showed support falling to 44 percent. The trend line across the surveys shows that the number of undecided voters on the issue has increased from 18 percent in January to 38 percent in late October.
In addition to the proposed amendment being harmful to workers, its recent drop in support coincides with Brian Kelsey, the lead sponsor of the amendment referral in the Tennessee Legislature, pleading guilty to multiple campaign finance-related crimes.
“Workers are paid less, receive fewer benefits on the job, and suffer much higher risk of workplace death in states that have laws like Amendment 1 — that’s a fact,” said Lendon Grisham, President of Teamsters Local 480 and Teamsters Joint Council 87 in Nashville. “Working people have had enough and are standing up to say, ‘Keep your damn hands off our constitution!’”
Tennessee has been a right-to-work state since 1947. While defeating Amendment 1 would not change any existing law in the state, the Teamsters are using this opportunity to educate union members and the general public about the ugly history of right to work.
“The architect of right to work, Vance Muse, was a famous segregationist,” said James E. Jones, President of Teamsters Local 667 in Memphis. “Throughout the 1940s, he presented right to work as a way to keep white and black workers out of the same organization. With our local union based in the city where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, we are constantly reminded of Dr. King’s opposition to right to work and his support for Memphis and Tennessee’s workers.”
Pathetically, Amendment 1 is being backed by the current Tennessee governor, both of the state’s sitting U.S. senators, and most of the Tennessee political establishment. But the Teamsters and labor allies are relentlessly traveling the entire state to properly educate union and non-union workers and their families about the true dangers of Amendment 1. Teamster volunteers are making phone calls, visiting worksites, sending text messages, and speaking one-on-one with voters.
“We’ve got an uphill battle, but so what? That’s the story of the entire American labor movement,” said Joe Bennett, President of Teamsters Local 327 in Nashville. “Win or lose, Tennessee Teamsters will never stop fighting to protect workers. We have to take it to the streets, stay organized, and remain energized. That’s how we all win together in the end.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.