On Wednesday, a Montana House committee voted 12-7 to table House Bill 448, which aimed to make Montana a “right-to-work” state. The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative James Bergstrom and opposed by hundreds of union members who packed the Capitol last week. During the hearing, proponents argued that the bill would stop “forced unionization,” but opponents pointed out that workers in Montana already have the choice to join or not join unions.
After Rep. Bergstrom and Democratic Representative Derek Harvey gave brief comments, Harvey, a union firefighter, motioned to table the bill. He highlighted the history of unions in Butte and urged lawmakers to learn more about it. Harvey also emphasized that most of the people who spoke at the hearing were against the bill, with only groups linked to “right-to-work” and anti-union business efforts in support. “These are working-class Montanans that we came here to represent,” Harvey told the committee.
Similar efforts to pass “right-to-work” legislation have failed in Montana in the past. A bill died on the House floor last session and another was tabled earlier this month.
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