Despite So-Called “Right to Work” laws being implemented in various states throughout the U.S., Montana recently defeated an attempt to implement the anti-worker legislation in their state.
The Montana AFL-CIO led the charge in terms of groups who pushed back on the bill. Their communications director, James Burrows joined AWF Union Podcast to explain how the opposition campaign worked and how other state federations can do the same.
So-Called “Right to Work” gains steam
Burrows said the entire state knew this was the most important election in decades. Then gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte indicated his support for So-Called “Right to Work” legislation, as did his Lieutenant Governor.
Additionally, Republicans held total control of the Montana legislature, making things difficult for labor groups. He added that money was flowing in from outside groups funded by prominent Republicans wishing to institute the anti-worker legislation.
Designing a campaign to defeat So-Called “Right to Work”
Burrows said the Montana AFL-CIO mobilized six months before the legislation was brought up. They knew they would have to be proactive to convince the Republican majority to vote against the legislation.
Workers then made phone calls to elected officials and even planned a rally at the state capitol, which was largely successful according to Burrows.
Finally, they educated the press. Since many local reporters were not well versed in the labor movement, it was important to get them good information in order to help them understand what was at stake.
Achieving a bipartisan vote
Burrows said the measure was defeated on a bipartisan basis, as many Republicans sided with Democrats. Many of these Republicans come from union families and families with a history in the labor movement.
However, he attributed the achievement to the union members who mobilized to contact representatives and employers, telling them to push back on the legislation because of the harm it would cause local communities.