September 5, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Sioux Falls, SD – Labor leaders in South Dakota have managed to put an initiative on the ballot that could be potentially life-changing for workers in the “Mount Rushmore State.”
Measure 23, which would repeal the state’s Right to Work law, has become a major point of contention for voters ahead of Election Day. The measure would allow labor unions to collect dues in order to help strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights.
The product of the nearly 15,000 signatures, the ballot initiative reflects the concerns of South Dakotans who want to see Right to Work repealed and labor rights restored. The results have left many labor proponents applauding the efforts of labor groups in the state.
“I was very proud to see that nearly 15,000 men and women stood up to the business special interest groups and offered a hand to fellow workers,” said Richard Dalton, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 in Ohio. “Over the past few months we have seen labor victories in several other states and I am confident that we will see another labor victory come Election Day.”
Right to Work laws, which have been implemented in over twenty states, allow individuals working in certain industries to operate without having to pay union dues. These laws consistly drive wages down and force hard working families into poverty.
South Dakota is currently stuck in the middle of a national debate over labor rights. Neighboring states like North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wyoming have Right to Work laws on the books while Montana and Minnesota do not.
“Labor leaders in South Dakota are in a fantastic position to take back their rights and invigorate the middle-class,” said Dalton. “As long as we get the word out so voters know about the benefits in repealing the current legislation, we should be able to cross another state off the Right to Work list this fall.”