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Sat Feb 20, 2021, 06:12 AM

Right-to-work bills get committee hearing

Two of Montanaís largest employers and the labor unions who represent the bulk of their workers found common ground this week, uniting in a committee hearing to oppose a major overhaul to private-sector labor law in Montana, a state with a storied union history.

At issue is House Bill 251, the most sweeping of several Republican-backed proposals this session that would weaken the position of labor unions in the state. While other bills would require additional layers of consent for union membership and the subtraction of dues from a workerís paycheck, HB251 would outlaw requirements for union membership as a condition of employment and remove a unionís ability to collect fees from non-members who might still receive representation from the union.

Broadly, these policies are referred to as right-to-work, a convenient if imprecise shorthand for one of the labor movementís key political fights. If HB251 passes, Montana would become the 28th state with right-to-work on the books, and the last state among its immediate neighbors in the Mountain West to adopt such a policy.

In a hearing on the bill Tuesday in the House Business and Labor Committee, dozens of skilled trades workers in Montana unions like the AFL-CIO flooded the hearing room and surrounding hallways, warning that right-to-work ó a policy that proponents say is necessary to protect the rights of workers to speak freely and enter into fair contracts ó would sacrifice the collective bargaining rights of organized working people in Montana for unclear economic benefit.

Read more: https://dailymontanan.com/2021/02/19/right-to-work-bill-heard-in-montana/

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