Republican Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday signed three bills to limit union activities in Mississippi, saying he hopes they strengthen the state’s reputation as a place where organized labor has little influence.
“Just to be blunt about it: We just don’t want unions involved in our businesses or our public sector,” Bryant told reporters after he signed the bills, which become law July 1.
Mississippi AFL-CIO president Robert Shaffer said in March that the bills will hurt low-wage workers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 3.7 percent of Mississippi workers were union members in 2013, the most recent number available. That’s one of the lowest rates in the nation.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, three other Republican lawmakers, a lobbyist and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative posed for pictures with Bryant as he signed the bills in his Capitol office.
Senate Bill 2473 makes it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive. It also says any decision by workers to unionize must be done by secret ballot.
Senate Bill 2653 says picketing is legal as long as it is nonviolent and doesn’t block entrances. It also simplifies the process of getting a court stop order against picketing.
Senate Bill 2797 says if any state or local government entity wants to use unionized labor on a project, it would have to get permission from the Legislature.