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Mississippi Legislature Passes Four ‘Anti-union’ Bills

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Mar 2014 04:51pm | comments

A group of bills that some consider 'anti-union' are headed to Governor Phil Bryant's desk. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the bills limit union activity and prevent local governments from adopting union friendly regulations.

The four bills restrict where unions can picket, and limit their ability to force businesses to stay neutral of a unionizing vote.

They also prevent local government from requiring contractors to use union labor or limit the types of back ground checks employers can do.

One of the main supporters, Senator John Polk of Hattiesburg, says the goal is to pre-empt strong arm tactics seen in other states.

"Over the years, unions have many times increased the level of activity to the point that there is some misuse or misinterpretations of the laws that are on the books," Polk said.

The Senate agreed to some minor changes to the bills meaning they can be sent to Governor Phil Bryant.

The vote was mostly down party lines with Democrats broadly opposing the bills.

Senator Kenny Wayne Jones of Canton, whose district includes the large Nissan auto plant, voted against the bills saying they take too much away from workers.

"Everything we look, our government is getting bigger. Now we are getting to be employer friendly when we should be taking care of the little people," Jones said.

Mississippi is among the least unionized states in the country with just 4-percent of workers unionized.

Robert Shaffer with the union AFL-CIO says he thinks the bills run contrary to federal law.

"There is not any other law specifically for labor unions until now. Everything was run through the feds. So they have changed what the federal law always unions to do," Shaffer said.

Shafer thinks the bills could have the opposite effect and actually encourage more Mississippians to become involved in unions.

Governor Bryant can choose to sign or veto the bills, or let them take effect without his signature.

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