Lawmakers introduce controversial bill to repeal right-to-work law in Arizona

Democrats have a new bill that would ditch Arizona's right-to-work law and they say it would increase benefits and wages for workers.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:11 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona is a “right-to-work” state but could that change? A bill was just introduced to repeal the state’s current right-to-work law. It’s controversial because people disagree on whether that would help or hurt you, the employee.

It all comes down to how you feel about unions. If you want the backing of a union fighting for things like higher pay and better work conditions, you likely would favor repealing right-to-work. But some people don’t want to be required to pay a union fee or have more union involvement in the workplace. “I was teaching and working for 50-60 hours a week for less than $30,000 and very few benefits,” said state Rep. Oscar De Los Santos, a Democrat from Laveen.

This experience made De Los Santos cosponsor a new bill, HCR 2008, with two other Democrat lawmakers that would repeal the current right-to-work law in Arizona. Though laws are constantly changing, Arizona is one of about half the states in the U.S. that are right-to-work, meaning there is no requirement to join a union to get or keep a job.

De Los Santos said having unions would be better for Arizona workers. “When you’re unable to band together with your colleagues and coworkers to negotiate a fair contract, your wages go down. You have worse benefits, less likely to get health insurance, less likely to get a pension,” De Losa Santos said.

But there are two sides to this that employment attorney Joshua Black sees from an outside perspective. “Research shows that states that are right-to-work tend to have better employment numbers, meaning generally that does attract businesses. However, again, to criticize that, those employees are generally paid less and receive less benefits,” said Black.

Black said there are truly pros and cons. “I think it gets people talking because it’s somewhat of a political issue,’ he said. Black said people would have to take into account if the support of a union is worth the price. “It’s like having a watchdog overseeing what’s happening in the workplace,” Black said. “People always grumble a little bit about deductions in their paycheck and rightfully so, every dollar that comes out is a dollar that doesn’t go home.”

De Los Santos said he and his colleagues hope to reach across the aisle to their Republican counterparts, believing this would benefit Arizonans working in all sorts of industries. “It is an attempt to rebuild the middle class and respect the dignity of work,” De Los Santos said.

This bill was just introduced, so it has a long way to go before it could even make it to the governor’s desk. It’s very possible it could die before it got there. Black said no matter what, it’s good to have these conversations and look at our rules every so often to see if it’s still the best option for Arizona workers.