What’s Union Membership Got to Do with It? Nothing, According to a Proposed Alabama Constitutional AmendmentRepublican state legislators recently introduced parallel bills that would amend the Alabama Constitution and reiterate Alabama’s status as a right to work state. Right to work states recognize and protect an employee’s right to choose whether to join or financially support a union. Although Alabama is already a right to work state, and has been for decades (see Ala. Code § 25-7-6), half of states (including California, New York, Kentucky, and Illinois) are not.

The proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution would declare Alabama’s public policy that prohibits denial of the right to work based on membership in a labor union.  If enacted, the amendment would also explicitly state that employers could not condition employment or continuation of employment on the payment of dues, fees, or other charges to any kind of labor organization. The proposed amendment, however, cuts both ways – it prohibits employers from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment.

The proposed constitutional amendment does not change the law in Alabama, but serves as additional support for Alabama’s stance on the right to work issue amid an active and union-friendly NLRB and an unresolved U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court must decide whether state government workers who choose not to join a union should be required to pay a portion of union dues.

In a nutshell, the proposed constitutional amendment would put to rest any question of where Alabama stands: membership (or nonmembership) in a labor union has nothing to do with the right to work in Alabama.