To the Editor:
Besides considering candidates for election, on Nov. 8, 2016 (or earlier if you vote early), voters will decide several issues including two issues in which it is proposed to amend the Constitution of Virginia. One of these, identified as "Question 1" reads as follows:
"Should Article 1 of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an
employment monopoly in any such enterprise?"
Virginia has had a tradition, since the 1940s, of being a "right to work" state. This means a person doesn't have to be a member of a union to get a job. This "tradition" is, in fact, the law in Virginia, however, it is not incorporated into the Virginia Constitution. The legislature wants "right to work" to be incorporated into the Constitution to make it more difficult to rescind Virginia's "right to work" law should the legislature and Governor become pro-union in future years.
The language of Question 1 is as straightforward and simple as can be. Apparently, however, its meaning and import escape state Sen. Scott Surovell. In his blog, he describes this question as "very controversial and very confusing as written on the ballot." He states his opposition and also says the following concerning Virginia's "right to work" law: "No legislature has even introduced legislation to repeal this statute in at least three decades. If they did, it would be a waste of time because it would not pass." Of course, Senator Surovell fails to point out that a pro-union legislature combined with a Democratic Governor could repeal it in future years. That is precisely why the current legislature wants it added to the Constitution.
No, there is nothing about the proposed amendment that is either controversial or confusing, particularly to those who don't want to have to join a union in order to be employed. Voters should vote "Yes" on Question 1 and enshrine in the Virginia Constitution the "right to work" without being required to join a union.
H. Jay Spiegel