Arizona grassroots organization pushes to repeal state’s ‘Right to Work’ law

A grassroots group wants to get rid of the state's "right to work" status which supporters say will strengthen unions.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:14 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) Arizona is part of the collection of states with right-to-work laws, which critics say are designed to weaken unions. However, a grassroots organization called Arizona Works Together is pushing to eliminate Arizona’s right-to-work laws from the state constitution. “We’re out here making sure that workers are not being undercut in their attempts to form unions,” Arizona Works Together Committee Chair Robert Nichols said.

After speaking with union employees in the state, including those from Airport Workers United at Sky Harbor Airport, Nichols filed a petition to create what he hopes will be the “Arizona Works Together Act,” which would repeal the language in our state’s constitution that says no employee is required to join a union for a job. “We are seeing that Arizona workers are really understanding that divided, our voices are much weaker,” he said. “And together, unions make us strong.”

Arizona employment attorney Josh Black says there are pros of a heavier union presence. But he says there are also downsides. “For some folks, they see that automatic requirement of dues being taken out as a big negative,” Black said. “On the positive sides, we see that when employees unionize and they’re able to work together in a concerted fashion, there’s usually higher wages.”

This isn’t the first time that some Arizonans have pushed to eliminate right-to-work language in the constitution. A bill sponsored by state Rep. Oscar De Los Santas, a Democrat from Laveen, fizzled out in January. Black says he expects this new effort to once again face an uphill climb. “You have to convince, of course, Arizona citizens that this is indeed worth changing the constitution,” he said. “Because this isn’t just changing a statute. This is something that is part of the Arizona constitution.”

Nichols knows getting the signatures and enough state support won’t be easy. But he’s confident people want the current system to change. “We understand that the Legislature is not going to do this right now,” Nichols said. “We are in the position to take matters into our own hands as the people of Arizona. And to fight for our rights as workers and the middle class.”

Nichols and Arizona Works Together need to get 383,000 signatures by July to get it on next year’s general election ballot. They’ve got a large launch event scheduled on Oct. 29.

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