Union fight brews with right-to-work push in Minn. 02 Feb 12

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The push is on to make Minnesota a state where union membership is optional at companies that have unions.

Several Republicans proposed Thursday to add a so-called right to work provision to the state constitution. It would bar labor contracts from requiring workers to pay union fees or compelling membership.

It has been an explosive issue in other states, with unions saying such measures give employers cover to pay lower wages. Advocates say it improves the job climate.

The Legislature has sole say over what proposed amendments reach the ballot, making Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s stated opposition moot.

Minnesota has narrow Republican majorities in the House and Senate, but some GOP members have been skittish about the measure leaving its fate an open question. Democratic lawmakers appear unified against it.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)