By Southern Workers Assembly

On November 8, a ballot initiative that would have put the state’s right-to-work (for less) status in the state constitution was defeated in Virginia thus securing an important victory for poor and working people everywhere.

If approved, the measure known as Constitutional Amendment Number 1, would have amended the state constitution so that Virginia could never not be a right-to-work state, except for another change to the constitution. A governor can’t veto a referendum.

The Virginia AFL-CIO and its affiliates along with community supporters which include members of the Southern Workers Assembly, worked across the state for months to defeat Amendment 1 despite millions of dollars poured into the state by anti-union, racist Wall Street forces such as the Koch brothers American Legislative Exchange Council.

“Together, we can rewrite the rules and create an economy that works for everyone. Strong unions can be a cultural force that set standards on the job and encourage public officials to set policies that benefit all workers. As part of a broader movement, unions help create norms for fair treatment, safety, decent wages, and benefits,” wrote Doris Crouse-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO, in an op-ed days before the November 8 vote.

Added Crouse-Mays: “This [right-to-work] law has been on the books for nearly 70 years and takes aim at workers’ rights to stand together and speak out in the workplace. I’ve personally worked in both union and nonunion facilities and I have seen the difference a collective bargaining agreement can make in the lives of working people — not always in wages, but in dignity and respect for one another… Any attempt to weaken dignity and respect does nothing to improve our communities. Our elected officials should be focused on improving our local economies by investing in infrastructure, fully funding our schools, raising wages, and creating good jobs right here in Virginia. Improving the lives of working families should be our first priority.”

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