Vote yes on constitutional amendments

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Virginians on Tuesday will vote on two proposed state constitutional amendments.

Currently, Virginia's right to work law, § 40.1-59 of the Code of Virginia, provides that any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership in the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise is against public policy and illegal.

1- Have been legally married to a "law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel" who died while doing their job.

While Virginia is now a right-to-work state by law, that could be changed in just one legislative session or by some court rulings.

Backers say embedding the provision in the constitution would make it harder for a future General Assembly to undo. Opponents say it does not belong in the constitution.

"People should be able to choose whether they want to join a union".

The Virginia AFL-CIO opposes the amendment "for a whole slew of reasons but most importantly because it has nothing to do with rights", said Gina Maglionico, the organization's communications director. "This amendment will future-proof Virginia's status as a pro-business state against any elected officials in the future who might want to change our status as a right-to-work state".

"Right-to-work laws are something of a misnomer".

Article X, Section 6-A of the Constitution of Virginia also authorizes the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who was killed in action, as determined by the U.S. Department of Defense. They do not guarantee anyone the right to have a job, nor do they guarantee any other workers' rights.

The proposed amendment "is unnecessary and a waste of time", she said.

The exemption from taxation would apply to the surviving spouse's principal place of residence.

The second constitutional amendment deals with a property tax exemption. The exemption ceases if the surviving spouse remarries.