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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, almost 1 year ago now, Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder signed historic right-to-work legislation into law. At the time he said he viewed it ``as an opportunity to stand up for Michigan's workers, to be pro-worker.''

The union bosses, the entrenched special interests, and the professional left may have stood in united, militant disagreement, but Michigan's soft-spoken Governor was right. The more venom Big Labor directed at him, the more it seemed to confirm the suspicions of many of the middle-class workers Snyder was trying to help. He was, in fact, on their side.

The truth is, over the years, Big Labor has come to care more about its own perks and power than the workers it was charged with protecting. Snyder knew that and he knew it was time to tip the scales back in favor of workers. He is not alone.

In the Senate, Senator Paul and I share Governor Snyder's commitment to helping restore worker rights. That is why yesterday we filed an amendment that would enact similar forward-looking reforms at the Federal level.

Our right-to-work amendment is simple enough. It merely calls for repealing the discriminatory clauses in Federal law that allow, as a condition of employment, forcing workers to join a union or forcing workers to pay union dues. In practical terms, here is what that would mean for middle-class folks in Kentucky and across America: If you want to join a union, you can. If you don't want to join a union, you don't have to. That is it. That is all this is about.

This is just common sense. It is basic fairness. According to one survey, about 80 percent of unionized workers agree that employees should be able to decide whether joining a union is for them. But this amendment isn't just about ending institutional discrimination against workers; it is also about job creation, economic growth, and making America more competitive in the 21st century.

Consider the fact that manufacturing employment is one-third higher in States with right-to-work laws or that, according to a recent study, States with right-to-work saw improvements in real personal income and average annual employment compared to what they would have seen without such laws or that many of our Nation's labor laws were passed in an earlier era, in some cases before many folks even had television sets.

America's labor regulations are antiquated and they need to be updated for the modern world. That is what the flextime legislation I introduced last week sought to achieve, and that is what right-to-work seeks to achieve as well.

Protecting the rights of workers, creating jobs, growing the economy, and keeping pace with the modern world is what right-to-work is all about. It is just common sense. If States such as Michigan, with proud traditions of organized labor, can look their problems in the face and act, then it is time for the Federal Government to act too.

I urge my colleagues to join Senator Paul and me in supporting this important amendment.

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