Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"A total of 28 states, including three this year, have passed right-to-work legislation," writes Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

"A total of 28 states, including three this year, have passed right-to-work legislation," writes Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. (Photo: Together We Will SJ‏/Twitter)

In NAFTA Talks, Canada Demands US Drop Anti-Union 'Right to Work' Laws

Right to work laws are "a sledgehammer that dilutes worker organization and bargaining, paving the way for lower wages and a host of labor violations"

Jake Johnson

Canada has demanded that the United States eliminate anti-union "right-to-work" laws as part of ongoing NAFTA negotiations, the Canadian Globe and Mail reported.

"A total of 28 states, including three this year, have passed right-to-work legislation."
—Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project
"One group of negotiators spent all day Sunday working on the labor file," The Globe and Mail noted. "One source familiar with the discussions said Canada wants the United States to pass a federal law stopping state governments from enacting right-to-work legislation; the source said the United States has not agreed to such a request."

In addition, Canadian negotiators are reportedly pressuring both the United States and Mexico "to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does."

The reports came just ahead of Labor Day, as thousands of workers throughout the U.S. and across the globe walked out of their jobs and took to the streets demanding a living wage and the right to organize.

According to Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, a "total of 28 states, including three this year, have passed right-to-work legislation, a sledgehammer that dilutes worker organization and bargaining, paving the way for lower wages and a host of labor violations."

Republicans have also introduced legislation that, if passed, would make right to work the law of the land.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has continued his war on workers by slashing the pay increases of federal employees, undoing overtime pay and worker safety rules, and appointing union-busters to the National Labor Relations Board.

Matt Bruenig, president of the People's Policy Project, laid out on Monday sample legislation that would easily meet Canada's demand by preempting right-to-work laws "in one fell swoop on the federal level."

"[R]eforming labor law to strengthen unions is not a complicated task, certainly not compared to things like overhauling the U.S. healthcare system," Bruenig notes. "With a few simple edits to the National Labor Relations Act, Congress could make it easier to join unions through majority sign-up rather than an election, easier for unions to negotiate a first contract through mandatory first contract arbitration, and harder on companies who break the law through civil fines."

Read the text of the bill:

(Image credit: The People's Policy Project)

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·


Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·


NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·


Texas Panel Denounced Over Attempt to Rebrand Slavery as 'Involuntary Relocation'

One progressive group called the proposal "a blatant attempt to whitewash history to fit a racist worldview."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Blatantly Partisan': NC Green Party Candidate Slams State Dems for Denying Ballot Petition

"It's a slap in the face to the thousands of people who signed," said Matthew Hoh, the Green Party's presumptive U.S. Senate nominee.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo