KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Critics of Arizona's 'right to work' laws are working to repeal them. Here's why

Arizona is a “right to work” state. On paper, that means workers can’t be fired or barred from employment because they don’t join a union.

But critics say “right to work” is deceiving and keeps Arizona workers from bargaining and forming unions.

“When you say you have the right to work, it’s basically saying that, yeah, you have the right to work to death,” said Democrat Leezah Sun, who represents District 22 in the West Valley. “You have the right to work for less.”

Robert Nichols with the group Arizona Works Together said Arizona’s first governor, George Hunt, was fiercely pro-union.

“We are carrying on the legacy of early Arizona politics by fighting to repeal right to work laws from the Arizona constitution,” said Nichols. “And create an affirmative right to organize in its place.”

He says it took 60,000 voters to make Arizona a right to work state in 1946. That’s just 12% of how many signatures they’ll have to gather to get it on the ballot next year.

Nichols said they’re required to gather 384,000 but are aiming for 500,000 to account for ones that may be removed.

But a coalition of local unions, state lawmakers, and labor activists say it’s necessary.

State Rep. Cesar Aguilar, a Democrat, said people in his district suffer because they can’t organize effectively.

“It breaks my heart to see working class folks drowning and preparing for homelessness,” said Aguilar.

Voter approval would guarantee the right to self-organize and form unions. Workers may opt out except where membership or financial support are conditions of employment.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.