Today, the House Business and Labor Committee narrowly voted to advance HB 251 despite overwhelming opposition from the Montana public, workers, and business leaders. Furthermore, a recent audit of communications to the Montana legislature showed that few pieces of legislation have received more opposition from Montanans than HB 251. The bill passed on an 11-9 vote with all Democrats and Fred Anderson (R) opposing the bill.
Conversely, the proponents of HB 251 relied heavily on out-of-state lobbyists and “think tanks” during testimony. During the bill’s hearing, the sponsor of HB 251 deferred many of the committee’s questions to a D.C. lobbyist and a recent investigative report highlighted Montana as a state in which out-of-state special interests are using “astroturf groups” to dismantle worker rights and freedoms through right-to-work legislation.
“Despite running on ‘jobs and the economy,’ a small majority of the House Business and Labor Committee chose to ignore the will of the people and advance legislation that lowers wages, threatens workplace safety, and sends Montana on a race to the bottom,” said MFPE President Amanda Curtis. Even the Republican governor of West Virginia conceded this week that right-to-work has failed his state.
Right-to-work is wrong for the working people of our great state, their families, and their communities. Furthermore, HB 251 is an affront to Montana’s proud labor history, which makes it even more disappointing that the Montana legislature would take us down this reckless and irresponsible path.
The Montana Federation of Public Employees calls on the Montana House of Representatives to reject HB 251 and its out-of-state special interest backers. The Montana Federation of Public Employees further calls on Governor Gianforte to commit to vetoing the legislation if it should make it to his desk.