Cal Cunningham, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, has generated headlines recently with an extramarital sex scandal. Yet it is a policy revelation unearthed last week about Cunningham, whose race could determine control of the Senate, that could strike many employers, investors, and site selectors as the greater scandal.
It turns out that North Carolina voters are finding out just now, about two weeks prior to the election, that Cal Cunningham supports federal legislation that would repeal North Carolina’s Right to Work law, along with those on the books in 26 other states. Right to Work laws, which have been around for 80 years, protect workers from being forced to join a union and pay dues as a condition of employment.
While it hasn’t been reported by North Carolina newspapers, it turns out Cal Cunningham quietly promised the Communication Workers of America union that he would vote for the PRO Act, meaning Cunningham supports a federal repeal of North Carolina’s Right to Work law. That position, which is at odds with the moderate image that Cunningham’s campaign has sought to portray, means that a victory by both Biden and Cunningham this November could result in a national Right to Work prohibition.
The PRO Act, legislation passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats in February, seeks to crack down on independent contracting and freelancing. It is modeled after California Assembly Bill 5, legislation so unpopular that nearly every industry fought for, and many won, exemptions.
The PRO Act would also overturn state Right to Work laws. Right to Work, which is the law of the land in most states, is not restricted to red states. In fact, some of the most recently enacted Right to Work laws were passed in the “Blue Wall” states that President Donald Trump won in 2016: Michigan (2012) and Wisconsin (2015).
Carolina Cunninghams’ Contrasting Positions On Right To Work
Another Democratic politician by the name of Cunningham, South Carolina Congressman Joe Cunningham (D), who represents the Palmetto State’s first congressional district, explains why he was one of the few Democrats to disobey Nancy Pelosi by voting against the PRO Act in February:
“The economy is humming right now and we don’t want to do anything that would throw sand in the gears,” Congressman Cunningham said in February about his vote against the PRO Act. “This piece of legislation would simply overturn our state’s right-to-work laws, it would force workers into one-size-fits-all union contracts and deprive workers of flexibility and independence.”
Despite intense pressure from unions that are among the most powerful interest groups in his party, Congressman Cunningham doesn’t want to subject his constituents in South Carolina to a California-inspired law that would, as he puts it, “force workers into one-size-fits-all union contracts and deprive workers of flexibility and independence.”
Cal Cunningham, based on his endorsement of the PRO Act, has no such reservations about subjecting North Carolinians to one-size-fits-all union contracts. If he did, Cal Cunningham would join Joe Cunningham in opposition to a federal repeal of state Right to Work laws.
When Cal Cunningham first ran for U.S. Senate in 2010, he expressed opposition to federal legislation that would overturn North Carolina’s Right to Work status. A decade ago Cal Cunningham said federal legislation “needs to make sure that it preserves North Carolina’s unique right-to-work laws.”
This author has reached out to Cunningham’s campaign to ask what prompted Cunningham to change his mind about the need to preserve North Carolina’s Right to Work status. This article will be updated to include the Cunningham campaign’s response if one is received.
Aside from the moral argument for giving people the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to join and fund a union, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that Right to Work laws make states more economically competitive and conducive to job creation. Numerous studies have documented how Right to Work states outperform non-Right to Work states when it comes to economic growth, job growth, and population growth.
Congressional Clout Of Right To Work States Is On The Rise
People have been voting with their feet in favor of Right to Work states for decades, with the result being reduced congressional clout for the states where workers can still be forced to join and fund a union. Right to Work states were the big winners during the post-2010 congressional reapportionment. Of the ten states that lost congressional seats a decade ago, only two of them are Right to Work states. Among the eight states that gained seats, seven are Right to Work states.
Among the ten states projected to lose congressional seats following the 2020 census, only two are Right to Work states (one of those two, West Virginia, wasn’t a Right to Work state until 2016). Among the seven states projected to gain congressional seats post reapportionment, most are Right to Work states.
Since the PRO Act has already passed the House, a Democratic takeover of the Senate this November means the PRO Act could be sent to the President’s desk in 2021. If Joe Biden is occupying the Oval Office next year, he’s made clear he supports the PRO Act and wants to repeal state Right to Work laws.
“We should change the federal law [so] that there is no Right to Work allowed anywhere in the country,” Joe Biden said. His running mate has expressed similar sentiments. “Banning Right to Work laws…That needs to happen,” Kamala Harris said.
Repeal of state Right to Work laws has been a goal of union bosses and Democratic politicians for decades. Despite the uptick in the number of Right to Work states over the past decade, even in historic Democratic strongholds, Democrats are on the cusp of attaining the federal power needed to pass a national prohibition of state Right to Work laws. It’s helpful for North Carolina voters that Cal Cunningham’s position on such a momentous issue is now public. That’s because Cunningham, if he wins in November, could cast the deciding vote in 2021 to overturn Right to Work in North Carolina and every state.
Source: Forbes – Business