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AG Derek Schmidt objects to federal legislation that would mandate that workers join unions

Release Date: Apr 08, 2021

TOPEKA – (April 8, 2021) – A proposal to cast aside more than 75 years of legal protections for workers would wrongly negate Kansas right-to-work laws by making union membership a condition of employment, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Schmidt joined a coalition of 14 state attorneys general in sending a letter to U.S. Senate leaders opposing the federal legislation. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 includes a provision that would require workers to face the choice of paying union dues or losing their jobs.

“Our Nation has always been one of opportunity that rewards individual choice, ingenuity, and initiative,” the attorneys general wrote. “Our laws have long preserved the ability of employees to speak for themselves, to make informed decisions, and to work without being forced to pay fees to third parties.”

The letter from the attorneys general points out that the U.S. Supreme Court long has upheld state right-to-work laws. The people of Kansas have placed a right-to-work provision directly in the state constitution, and the proposed federal legislation attempts to negate that state constitutional protection.

The PRO Act seeks to undermine the right-to-work laws passed by 27 states, including Kansas. For example, one section of the legislation condones union contracts that would force employees to pay union dues “as a condition of employment.”

The attorneys general say in their letter that they are responsible for upholding the laws in their states, including laws that guard the freedom of employees to keep their jobs regardless of whether they pay union dues. The PRO Act would abruptly end 75 years of freedom by ending right-to-work laws in 27 states. “Accordingly, we respectfully urge Congress not to enact the PRO Act, particularly those provisions negating the Right-to-Work Laws.”

A copy of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/3uwq1K6.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.