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Alabama Voters Could End Forced Union Membership

by Countable | 10.28.16

Twenty-six states currently have what are known as “right to work” laws, which let workers choose whether or not they want to join a union. Just 10 of those states have enshrined that policy in their state constitution, but this November, voters in two more states will decide whether or not to join that list, including Alabama.

What the Referendum Does

This referendum would amend Alabama’s constitution to ensure that a person’s right to work without joining a union is protected. It would also prohibit businesses from requiring workers to join a union in order to get or keep a job.

If enacted, this law would not apply to employment contracts that took effect prior to November 8, 2016.

This referendum will appear on Alabama ballots on November 8 as “Amendment 8.”

In Favor

Workers shouldn’t be required to join a union and pay dues in order to get or keep a job, especially when union dues are often spent on political advocacy that the worker may not agree with. A constitutional amendment would hopefully provide a permanent protection for workers.


Forced unionization is the only way to ensure that all workers pay their fair share to support the union that collectively bargains on their behalf for better wages and benefits. Otherwise workers who aren’t in the union will get similar benefits without chipping in

In Depth

Alabama is already a right-to-work state, so workers in the state aren’t required to join a union to get a job. However, that right isn’t currently part of the state constitution, so it would be relatively easy for the state legislature to reverse the policy with a governor’s approval.

As a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, this proposal had to be passed by a three-fifths or 60 percent in both houses of the Alabama legislature before voters could have their chance to weigh in. The state House passed the bill on a 69-33 vote in February 2016, and the Senate followed suit a month later, passing it on a 25-9 margin.

— Eric Revell


Written by Countable

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