Mississippi has not been what you’d call a pro-union state, but it’s really hammering that point home this week, with the state Senate passing not one, not two, but THREE anti-union bills and sending them to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature:
Senate Bill 2473 would make it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive or to allow workers to choose union representation by signing cards instead of by secret ballot. It’s not clear what would constitute coercion, but businesses could sue anyone they believed engaged in it. […]
Senate Bill 2653 tries to restrict mass picketing of a residence or place of business. It says pickets would be legal as long as they weren’t violent and didn’t block entrances. But it also makes getting a court stop order against picketing easier.
Senate Bill 2797 says the Legislature would have to pass a law to allow any state or local government to make an agreement to use unionized workers on a project. Such a project labor agreement was used to build the Toyota Motor Corp. plant in Blue Springs.
So basically, “unions GTFO. We will sue you for breathing.”
Getting companies to enter neutrality agreements in union representation elections is an important tool for union organizing, and since it rarely happens without some public pressure and this bill doesn’t really define coercion, it sounds like almost any effort to get a business to simply refrain from pressuring its workers against unionizing would be vulnerable to a lawsuit. Anti-picketing bills have come up repeatedly in the south in recent years, with the attorney general of Tennessee recently concluding that a bill targeting union picketing in his state was unconstitutional.
Mississippi Republicans are, of course, feeling particularly fearful of unions lately because of the organizing drive at a Nissan plant in the state, which is drawing celebrity support.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week’s labor and education news.
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