Is Minnesota a “Right to Work” State?

All the national media attention given the passage in Michigan of a “Right to Work law” may raise the question, is Minnesota a Right to Work state?  With the Michigan law, there are now 24 that are considered “right to work” states.

The answer is no – Minnesota is not a right to work state.  Minnesota state law allows negotiation of a union security clause that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay union dues ( i.e., the proportion of union dues related to collective bargaining expenses).  This applies to public and private employers.

But there was a legislative push for a Minnesota Right to Work law in the 2012 session by way of a proposed state constitutional amendment entitled Minnesota Freedom of Employment Amendment or the “Right to Work”Amendment.  It provided:

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not join a labor union; to remain with or leave a labor union; or to pay or not pay dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind to a labor union or any affiliated third party or charity, without having it affect their employment status?

After considerable publicity and legislative procedures, the proposed amendment  stalled and, as we know, did not appear on the November 2012 ballot. 

Takeaway:  The winds of change may someday resurrect in Minnesota another attempt to prohibit mandatory union membership or payment of union dues.   But the immediate driver is political will and with a DFL- controlled legislature and a DFL Governor committed to preserving current state law, the chances are that Minnesota employers will be observers rather than participants in any Right to Work national zeitgeist caused by the Michigan law.

About Neal Buethe

Neal Buethe is Head of Briggs and Morgan’s Employment, Benefits and Labor Section. Neal represents professionals, executives, for-profit employers, and non-profit organizations in employment and related matters. He is general counsel to several non-profit corporations, including religious organizations. For Neal’s full bio, click here.

Posted on December 14, 2012, in Public Interest, Unions and Labor Law. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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