The following is an op-ed written by State Senator Max Burns.
It’s no secret the Peach State economy is booming. Governor Kemp just announced that Georgia was named the #1 state to do business for the ninth time! Georgia is also among the top states in the country to start a business. But workers in rural areas like the one I represent are often the last to feel the benefits of a growing economy.
That’s where right-to-work comes in. The law, which protects workers from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment, is like a jobs magnate. Large and small employers alike recognize states with right-to-work laws value worker freedoms. That’s a key reason they flock to states like Georgia.
Just as rural workers are often the last to feel the benefits of a strong economy though, they are just as often the first to feel the pain during economic downturns. Such a downturn would certainly come to Georgia if Senator Raphael Warnock and President Joe Biden get their way and they eliminate our right-to-work law.
Senator Warnock is among the Senate sponsors of a bill deceptively called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which, in reality, does the opposite; it forces workers into a union or pay union dues, even if they choose not to. That’s because among the other jobs-killing provisions in the PRO Act, it would repeal our right-to-work law, and similar such laws in 26 other states. In addition to depriving Georgians of their right to decide for themselves if they want to join a union, it would also force approximately 3.7 million workers to pay union dues averaging close to $1,000 per year during a time of rampant inflation.
Warnock’s PRO Act doesn’t stop there! Several other provisions of this legislation are designed to give union bosses more control of the workplace at the expense of workers and employers. For example, one provision would eliminate the right to a secret ballot in union elections. No longer would workers be permitted to share their preference to organize a workplace with a private ballot. Instead, they would have to proclaim whether they support a union publicly, in front of workmates and union reps. Another anti-worker provision would mandate that employers must hand over privileged employee information without the employee’s consent. Yet another provision targets franchise owners by imposing a joint-employer standard, which makes it easier for unions to organize these businesses and holds franchisees responsible for workers they don’t even employ.
This would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s business model, which has traditionally been a powerful vehicle toward prosperity, especially for minority entrepreneurs.
It is foolish for Senator Warnock to support the PRO Act, let alone sponsor it. These provisions and others are very unpopular in Georgia. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce commissioned a poll in the spring that shows 64% of all voters (including 63% of Democrats) support our right-to-work law. Seventy-two percent are worried about the elimination of a secret ballot. Interestingly, more than half (52%) of Georgians say they are more likely to vote against someone who support this terrible bill.
Why would Senator Warnock support such an unpopular measure? Is Senator Warnock putting special interests ahead of Georgia’s workers? That would appear to be the case. It turns out unions spent $4.5 million helping to elect Warnock in the first place. And since he’s taken office, he has become the 3rd highest recipient of union money among all U.S. Senators.
Here’s the good news: Workers and small employers have a say in all this on November 8th. On that day we get to decide if Raphael Warnock deserves a full term in the U.S. Senate. Knowing now that Georgia’s economy – and the economic health of rural Georgia – is on the ballot, I’m confident Georgians will reject this jobs-killing policy that was bought and paid for by union bosses and their lobbyists and the union-backed politicians who are trying to force this on our workplaces.
Max Burns represents District 23 in the Georgia Senate.