Democrats, AFL-CIO critical of Right to Work push

virginia general assemblyFor the second year in a row, Senate Republicans pushed through a proposed amendment that seeks to insert Virginia’s existing Right to Work law into the state constitution.

The measure, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham), consists of two parts: the text of the proposed amendment itself (SJ70) and separate enabling legislation (SB446). Both proposals passed on a party-line vote. If they pass the House, there will be a statewide referendum on whether to make the proposed constitutional change in November 2016.

Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Alexandria) said, “I’ve been here a long time, 41 years, and I just now found out our right to work law is under attack. I’ll be darned. In the 41 years that I’ve been here nobody has ever put in a bill to repeal the right to work. Our right to work law is not in any jeopardy. We’re turning the Constitution into the Code of Virginia.”

Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) said, “We should not amend the Constitution willy-nilly. Nobody’s put in a bill that I’m aware of in all these years to change the right to work law in Virginia.”

After the vote, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “My colleagues on the other side suggest that, somehow, an Attorney General can interfere with right to work. That is categorically untrue. Right to work is the law of the Commonwealth and has been the unchallenged law of the Commonwealth for over 75 years. Nobody is trying to change that. The Constitution is a sacred document and we should not change it on a whim and with absolutely no need.”

The Virginia AFL-CIO is also critical of the push from the GOP.


“It’s unfortunate that certain assembly members are more worried about their own political maneuvering and guarding against an imaginary threat than improving the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of hard working Virginians,” stated Doris Crouse-Mays, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO.

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