LAS VEGAS — Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris called for the federal ban on so-called "right-to-work" laws in the United States during her Saturday morning remarks at the National Forum on Wages and Working People.
"Banning right-to-work laws" would be one of the first initiatives Harris would take up in office, she told the audience of labor members and organizers at The Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Republican governors and legislators throughout the country have been pushing through laws that allow individuals to join a company or firm without being obligated to pay or join a labor union. Some right-to-work laws also forbid contracts that force employers to hire unionized workers. More than half of U.S. states have some sort of right-to-work law on the books.
"I'd use my executive authority to make sure barriers are not in place to do the advocacy [unions] need to do," Harris said.
Critics say that right-to-work laws have devastated local labor groups around the country, which have already faced a precipitous decline since their peak in the 20th century.
“The barriers to organized labor to organize and strike have grown over a period of time,” Harris said.
Earlier in April, fellow 2020 presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told an audience at the International Association of Machinists conference, also in Las Vegas, that he would ban right-to-work laws.
Harris' call for a ban on such legislation is another signal of a Democratic field vying to placate progressive members of the base. Such a ban on right-to-work laws would likely need to be approved by Congress, where Republicans — who are the most vocal supporters of such laws — currently control the Senate.