Kentucky’s Republican U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul will attempt to attach a national anti-union “right to work” law to the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — the federal law designed to provide workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. According to WGDB’s Roll Call, the Senate is expected to begin debate on ENDA this week.
Right to work laws are laws that prohibit employers and workers from entering into contracts mandating union membership for any profession, from nurses to police officers to auto workers. States with right to work laws generally feature fewer protections for workers. The laws typically weaken workers’ position to bargain with employers by reducing union membership and stripping away the power of collective bargaining.
A national right to work law could potentially undermine unions of all kinds nationwide and could make all states as economically depressed as Oklahoma and the southern states that feature right to work laws.
Graham submitted the amendment to the ENDA bill, the first amendment filed. Paul co-signed. While being the first filed amendment is no guarantee that the provision will be debated, the fact that it was filed by the Senate Minority Leader tends to bode in its favor.
Kentucky’s current unemployment rate is 8.4 percent, higher than the 7.2 percent national average. According to the Lexington Herald-Reader, eastern Kentucky continues to hemorrhage jobs even as the national economy slowly recovers.
“The average poverty rate in Appalachian Kentucky from 2007 through 2011 was 24.8 percent, compared to a national rate of 14.3 percent,” wrote the Herald-Reader’s Bill Estep, “but the rate in some Eastern Kentucky counties was well above 30 percent, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.”
On Monday, Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller endorsed ENDA, giving it the two thirds majority it needs to avoid a filibuster in the Senate.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), however, has said via a spokesperson that he refuses to even consider bring the bill to the floor of the House of Representatives for debate.
The law, said Boehner’s office, will only give rise to “frivolous litigation” and hurt American businesses.
[Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]