Workers Rights

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But why would anyone voluntarily debase themselves with no reward? That’s what we’re being asked to do on November 8, with the ballot measure known as Amendment 1. 

 

Amendment 1 would enshrine in our constitution Tennessee’s status as a Right to Work state. RTW is a friendly-sounding term that really means two things:

 

  1. the right for corporations to pay workers less money and offer fewer protections 

  2. the right for wealthy corporations to get huge tax breaks at taxpayers’ expense

 

As residents of a RTW state, Tennesseans are taking it in the shorts several ways:

 

  • We’re getting paid well below the national average. Our average annual income is $37,000, which is $13,000 below the federal poverty wage.

  • We can be fired without cause.

  • We’re providing most of the funding (54%) for our state services, mostly through high sales taxes. (By comparison, corporations provide only 17% of that funding. In fact, 60% of the corporations in TN, including 25% of our wealthiest corporations, pay no state taxes.)

  • We have less funding for our public schools—and it shows.

 

Don’t believe me? Follow the money. If RTW is so great for Tennesseans, you’d think the “Yes on 1” campaign would be a grassroots effort, fueled by everyday folks from Memphis to Mountain City. Nah.

 

Amendment 1 was introduced by TN State Senator Brian Kelsey, an attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, the legal arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a right-wing think tank that has opposed progressive tax rates, expanded mail-in voting, tobacco-control policies, and unionization. It has financial ties to wealthy conservative donors. 

 

The “Yes on 1” campaign is being publicly pushed by wealthy conservative governors Bill Haslam and Bill Lee. The campaign executive committee includes the TN director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses; the president and CEO of the TN Chamber of Commerce; and the president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, which killed Haslam’s 2015 effort to expand Medicaid in TN. 

 

Tennesseans have approved 11 out of 11 ballot measures since 1995. Let’s break that chain. Tell your friends and neighbors to vote no on Amendment 1.

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