Rayanne Matlock

ATR Urges Arizona Lawmakers to Reject Tax Hikes

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Thursday, March 7th, 2019, 1:03 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to Arizona lawmakers urging them to reject a slew of tax hikes before the Arizona legislature this session. The full text of the letter is below:

To: Members of the Arizona Legislature
From: Americans for Tax Reform
Re: Reject Tax Hikes

Dear Representative,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Arizona, I urge you to reject House Bill 2702, which would impose taxes on internet sales; Senate Concurrent Resolution 1001 and its companion, House Concurrent Resolution 2024, which would refer a sales tax increase to voters; conformity legislation that fails to return the associated revenue back to taxpayers; and all other efforts to take more of your constituents’ hard-earned income 

There is a wealth of social science demonstrating the economic harm that results from raising taxes. John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh, N.C.-based think tank, surveyed over 680 peer-reviewed academic journal articles on fiscal policy published over the past quarter century. According to Hood, “the preponderance of peer-reviewed research finds a negative relationship between state taxes and measures such as job creation and income growth.”

Tax Foundation economist William McBride reviewed academic literature going back three decades and found, “while there are a variety of methods and data sources, the results consistently point to significant negative effects of taxes on economic growth even after controlling for various other factors such as government spending, business cycle conditions and monetary policy.”

HB 2702, SCR 1001, HCR 2024, conformity legislation that fails to return the associated revenue back to taxpayers, and all other efforts to raise taxes would inflict a great deal of harm on the hardworking individual taxpayers, families, and employers in the Grand Canyon State.

In addition to being bad policy, tax increases are also bad politics. An ATR analysis of recent election results finds that voters in both red and blue states overwhelmingly rejected tax increases at the ballot. Election outcomes are the most accurate polls available, and they show that the public is opposed to tax increases. 

ATR opposes HB 2702, SCR 1001, and HCR 2024 and urges lawmakers to vote NO on all of these bills. ATR will be educating Arizona taxpayers as to how lawmakers vote on these and other tax and regulatory matters. Please look to ATR as a resource on tax, budget, and other issues pending before you. 

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

Photo Credit: Ken Lund


ATR Urges Utah Lawmakers to Reject Harmful Tax Hike

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Thursday, March 7th, 2019, 10:57 AM PERMALINK

With just a few days left in the legislative session, some Utah legislators are attempting to impose a potentially devastating tax hike into law. Members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee in Utah sent House Bill 441, the “Tax Equalization and Reduction Act”, to the House floor. While disguised as revenue-neutral and even a tax cut, the bill’s own fiscal note projects it would impose a massive tax increase on hard working Utahns. Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to Utah legislators urging them to vote NO on House Bill 441. 

The full text of the letter is below: 

To: Members of the Utah Legislature
From: Americans for Tax Reform
Re: Reject House Bill 441

Dear Representative,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Utah, I urge you to reject House Bill 441, the “Tax Equalization and Reduction Act.” Despite being described as a tax cut or even revenue neutral, the bill’s own fiscal note projects it would impose a massive tax increase on the hardworking people of Utah.

There is a wealth of social science demonstrating the economic harm that results from raising taxes. John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh, N.C.-based think tank, surveyed over 680 peer-reviewed academic journal articles on fiscal policy published over the past quarter century. According to Hood, “the preponderance of peer-reviewed research finds a negative relationship between state taxes and measures such as job creation and income growth.”

Tax Foundation economist William McBride reviewed academic literature going back three decades and found, “while there are a variety of methods and data sources, the results consistently point to significant negative effects of taxes on economic growth even after controlling for various other factors such as government spending, business cycle conditions and monetary policy.”

In addition to being a massive tax hike, HB 441 would also implement a number of unsound policies. For example, in some cases, business-to-business transactions would be taxed. Another major flaw with HB 441 is that it would raise healthcare costs by taxing health insurance premiums.

As currently written, the sales and income tax rate reductions included in HB 441 are far outweighed by the significant tax increase and problematic base broadening. In the bill’s current form, ATR opposes HB 441 and urges lawmakers to vote NO. 

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform 

 

Photo Credit: Mathieu Thouvenin


Reagan Legacy Project Highlights Overseas Dedications to President Reagan

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019, 2:49 PM PERMALINK

Today is the 108th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birth and the 15th since his passing. This year, the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project is proud to highlight Reagan’s international recognition.

The most recent international effort to honor the late president is statue of Ronald Reagan in Kiev, Ukraine. The Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation started the formal process of getting a permit to construct a monument to Ronald Reagan in the center of the capital, Kyiv in 2017. If approved, the Reagan monument would be placed on the former site of a statue of Communist criminal Dmytro Manuilsky. That statue was destroyed in 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity.

"Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation is looking to get permit to build a monument to Ronald Reagan in the Kyiv city center, on the place where the statue of former communist leader stood up until it was demolished during the 2014 Revolution of Dignity,” said Maryan Zablotskyy, President of the Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation. “This is to underline the great impact Reagan had on the destruction of Communism. Reagan met Ukrainian diaspora and proclaimed: ‘your struggle is our struggle’. And we are forever thankful for that. Ukraine now has special laws in place that forbid the use of any communist regalia and symbols. We think this victory over totalitarianism should be polished with a monument to Reagan, who led the anti-communist movement globally. We have so far developed a concept of the monument with the help of locally known architect Kostyantyn Skrytytsky and will be going through necessary public debates and permit procedure.” 

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, founded by Grover Norquist, endorsed the Kyiv project in a letter to the UEFF. Placing the statue in the same location where the statue of the prominent leader of Communist party of Ukraine once was will serve as a reminder to Ukrainians of their unwavering independence. The site of the proposed Reagan monument is located at the intersection of Str. Lypska and Instytytska, right next to Parliament and government buildings. At the other side of street is a monument to the author of the first Ukrainian constitution.

“So far we have developed a draft concept of the monument. The monument will represent a larger composition, which includes elevation to step up to Reagan,” said Zablotskyy. “This underlines the importance of Reagan. The height of statue itself is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). Thus visitors will be able to go up a few steps, shake Reagan’s hand and take a photo while being slightly smaller in size compared to Reagan. Behind Reagan will be a small wall which will feature his quotes about Ukraine and Ukrainian diaspora, for example: ‘Your struggle is our struggle.’

Since 2011, 11 monuments to Reagan have been built across Eastern Europe, such as in SofiaBudapest, and Tbilisi. There are currently 151 domestic dedications in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries.

The 17 dedications are: 

The Ronald Reagan Marine Railway
Pago Pago, American Samoa

Ronald Reagan Street
Prague, Czech Republic

“Grenada Salutes Ronald Reagan, Leader of Freedom” Commemorative Stamp Collection
Grenada

The Ronald Reagan Scholarship Fund
Grenada

Ronald Reagan Statue
Grosvenor Square
London, England

Ronald Reagan Statue
Ballyporeen, Ireland

The Ronald Reagan-Main Street
Ballyporeen, Ireland

The Ronald Reagan Pub
Ballyporeen, Ireland

US Army Kwajalein Atoll/Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site
Republic of the Marshall Islands

Ronald Reagan Statue
Rike Park
Tblisi, Georgia

Ronald Reagan Bust Statue
Budapest City Park
Budapest, Hungary

Ronald Reagan Bronze Statue
Freedom Square
Budapest, Hungary

Ronald Reagan Park
Gdansk, Poland

Ronald Reagan Square
Krakow, Poland

Rondo Ronalda Reagana (Ronald Reagan Circle)
Tarnow, Poland

Ronald Reagan Monument
Wroclaw, Poland

Ronald Reagan Roundabout
Wroclaw, Poland

Photo Credit: Flickr


Dems Pull Widely Panned Power Move in NJ, While Complaining About WI

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Monday, December 10th, 2018, 11:20 AM PERMALINK

In national media, Democrats are whining about GOP measures in Wisconsin to limit executive power. But less national attention has been paid to New Jersey, where Democrat leadership is attempting to use a constitutional amendment to let them gerrymander state election districts to make their power permanent.

Some background: after last year’s election of Democrat Phil Murphy as Governor, New Jersey Democrats control a political trifecta in the state. Now state legislators are looking to make their victory permanent with a constitutional amendment that would further gerrymander New Jersey in favor of Democrats.

Democratic leadership in the Garden State conspired over the Thanksgiving holiday to propose a constitutional amendment, ACR60/SCR43, which would eliminate Republican competition.

The measure’s language is deceiving, because it must ultimately be approved by the voters. It asks: "Do you approve of requiring the commission to establish districts that are competitive and fairly represent voter preferences?"

However, “competitive” in this case means districts that favor Democrats by as much as 10 percent.

The trickery, and gerrymandering measure has earned broad, bi-partisan and non-partisan opposition. Many states seek to avoid gerrymandering by instituting independent commissions, but they aren’t very independent if their mission is to rig each district to grant a huge voter advantage to one party. Implementation of ACR60/SCR43 would reverse the state’s course toward a more fair redistricting process.

The controversial parts of the legislation don’t stop there. It mandates legislative participation in the commission for the first time since 1971. This poses a conflict, because the same legislators drawing the districts also have an incentive to protect their seat.

The new amendment calls for a commission of 13 seats instead of the current 11, and allows the party chairs to select individuals for two seats and gives legislative leaders from both parties direct influence by appointing eight more. Currently, the party chairs each make five seat appointments and the chief justice of the Supreme Court chooses an 11th member in the event of a tie. The new amendment would require the chief justice to select the 13th member at the beginning of the process. This is hardly “independent”.

ACR60/SCR43 is clearly a bid to fool New Jersey voters into endorsing gerrymandering under the guise of a “fair” process, there is no other way to slice it. It gives the majority party, in this case Democrats, the power to ensure their seats stay blue forever.

A group of over 130 leaders in the community with vastly different political backgrounds have joined forces to oppose the legislation by writing a letter to the New Jersey Legislature in opposition to the amendment. Even Sue Altman, a board member of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, one of the left-wing groups in opposition, commented that “South Jersey Women for Progressive Change pledges to use our large and effective social media reach, our impassioned volunteer network, our coalition across New Jersey that we’ve built on the backs of passionate volunteers, our extensive email list and all the energy of 8,000 angry women to fight this”.

A public hearing is to be slated for this week, ahead of a vote to take place by December 17. If it passes, it will go to a second and final vote next year.

So while the media covers the events in Wisconsin like it is one of the most pressing stories in the country, it’s crickets from the press on the shenanigans in New Jersey. The selective outrage is telling.

 

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson


ATR Urges Vermont Lawmakers to Reject Opioid Tax Hikes

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018, 4:50 PM PERMALINK

Opioid tax proposals have been popping up in state legislatures across the country this year.

In March, the Kentucky House became the first legislative chamber to pass a tax on opioids. The effort was defeated in the state senate. Then, just last week, New York became the first state to institute a punitive tax on prescription opioids.

Proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) as part of the state budget, the $100 million per year tax will be levied on opioid manufacturers, with the cost passed down to consumers. Now Vermont is looking to become the second state in the nation to impose this misguided and regressive new tax.

Americans for Tax Reform weighed in today with a letter to members of the Vermont Senate Finance Committee, urging them to reject the proposed opioid tax hike currently being considered as an amendment to House Bill 386. As ATR president Grover Norquist explained in the letter to Green Mountain State lawmakers, this proposal for a special tax on certain painkillers, like those pending in other state capitals, represents a shameless cash grab that seeks to exploit tragedy in an attempt to further hike taxes.

“Raising the cost of drugs by imposing higher taxes will not curb abuse, as many addicts are by definition among the least price sensitive consumers in the market,” Norquist wrote. “This type of legislation is just another example of a tax hike that would not achieve its ostensive goal, but would result in a number of negative consequences.”

ATR will continue to urge Vermont senators to reject this misguided tax. Should it pass the legislature, ATR will urge Gov. Phil Scott (VT-R), who has been a taxpayer hero in opposing effort to install a regressive carbon tax, to veto the bill.

Photo Credit: Dan Shall


Connecticut Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Carbon Tax Legislation, Which is Proliferating in State Capitols

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Friday, March 16th, 2018, 5:55 PM PERMALINK

The Connecticut House Environment Committee held a hearing earlier this week on House Bill 5363, legislation seeking to impose the nation’s first-ever statewide carbon tax. If implemented, this regressive new tax would significantly drive up utility bills, gas prices, and other energy costs.

As such, Americans for Tax Reform opposes HB 5363 and sent a letter to committee members urging them to vote “NO” on this and other attempts to levy a carbon tax. ATR is reminding Nutmeg State lawmakers that after being dealt the two largest state tax hikes in history under Gov. Dan Malloy and 20 Obamacare taxes in just the last eight years, the last thing their constituents need is a carbon tax.

Connecticut isn’t the first to see carbon tax legislation pop up. Maryland, Washington, New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine have all pursued legislation to levy a carbon tax. Most recently, the Washington State legislature struck down carbon tax legislation because it would be arduous to administer and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable households in the state.

Natural gas, oil and coal, which would be taxed under carbon tax legislation, make up 80 percent of energy consumption in the United States. Since low income households spend a greater share of their income on energy consumption than high income households, a carbon tax is a direct hit on those who can least afford it.

Carbon taxes also have an adverse effect on businesses. The Tax Foundation has found that the implementation of a carbon tax would make states less competitive than states without the tax, prompting companies and ultimately individual taxpayers to leave the state for a more favorable tax climate. Outmigration of businesses means a loss of jobs for individuals and revenue for the state.

Furthermore, implementing a state carbon tax would counteract the positive effects of the recently enacted federal tax reform. Not only would a carbon tax raise utility bills, it would lead to higher gas prices. For example, if the bill in Washington State were to be enacted, it is estimated that it would increase gasoline prices 10 cents per gallon by 2020, according to legislative analysis in Washington State.  

HB 5363 is expected to be approved by the House Environment Committee, but its prospects for passage are less certain on the Connecticut House floor. For more information on the harm that a carbon taxes would do the state economy and household finances, check out the fact sheet put out by the National Association of Manufacturers.  

Photo Credit: Harshil Shah


ATR Applauds Efforts to Repeal Gov. Jerry Brown’s Gas Tax Hike

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017, 3:33 PM PERMALINK

At the start of this year, California had the 7th highest taxes and fees on gas in the U.S. Thanks to the gas tax increase championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that took effect on November 1st, it is estimated that California will have the nation’s 2nd highest gas tax by 2019, behind only Pennsylvania, with total state taxes and fees coming to 58.3 cents per gallon.

Proponents claim funds from the new tax hike will fund transportation needs, but the Golden State has a bad track record of diverting gas tax funds elsewhere. Despite already having some of the highest taxes and fees on gas in the nation, California has some of the worst and most congested roads in the country. A big reason for that is gas tax revenues get used for things other than building new roads and instead spend the money on non-transportation purposes. That can be expected to continue with the most recent gas tax hike.

Gov. Brown’s gas tax hike will cost California taxpayers $5 billion per year. That’s about $600 extra per year that the average family will shell out because of this tax. Fortunately, there may be a way for voters to undo this harmful tax hike. State Assemblyman Travis Allen is leading an initiative to repeal this latest gas tax hike. This requires 365,880 signatures to be gathered from registered voters in 180 days in order to qualify it for the ballot in November 2018.

Unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra are misleading California voters by drafting language for the measure that would appear on the ballot in a deceitful manner. The state constitution requires ballot initiative summaries to be drafted with neutral language. But Attorney General Becerra’s language is far from neutral and is outright misleading, in a shameless attempt to prevent the gas tax from meeting its potential demise at the hands of voters.

Becerra claims that the gas tax repeal initiative seeks to eliminate the Independent Office of Audits and Investigations, which is a blatant lie because that agency doesn’t exist. Becerra also falsely alleges in his ballot statement that the initiative would be taking away existing transportation funds, when in reality the initiative leaves the existing transportation funds alone. 

Becerra’s misleading statement has led Assemblyman Travis Allen to file a lawsuit against the Attorney General for his deceptive ballot statement, and to revert back to the initiative’s original, straightforward, and honest language.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, praises the Assemblyman Allen for his efforts in defense of taxpayers:

“Assemblyman Travis Allen should be applauded for his efforts to repeal this tax hike, which will siphon even more money from the pockets of California taxpayers, who already face one of the nation’s heaviest overall tax and regulatory burdens, and send it to the black hole for taxpayer dollars that is Sacramento.

This tax hike will disproportionately harm low and middle income households already facing steep tax bills. I commend Assemblyman Allen, Carl DeMaio, and others who are working to give voters a choice to repeal this latest Sacramento cash grab.

While Gov. Brown and national Democrats talk about taxing the rich, Jerry Brown’s gas tax hike is just the latest example of how the party of Pelosi, Schumer, Brown, Cuomo, and Malloy is pushing a policy agenda that harms middle and low income households. Now Attorney General Becerra is shamelessly lying to voters in order to prevent them from having a chance to repeal this tax hike. All in all a sad state of affairs in the Golden State.”

Photo Credit: Misha U

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DeVos Confirmation a Victory for Families Nationwide

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017, 2:48 PM PERMALINK

With a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary early this afternoon.

The narrow victory comes after a persistent effort by Democrats to derail her confirmation. But this isn’t just a victory for Republicans or Betsy DeVos, this is a victory for all families across the United States.

In October 2016, EdChoice released results from a national survey polling American families about educational options for their children. They found that just 28 percent of parents prefer to send their children to a public school, while a combined 69 percent of parents prefer alternative forms of education. Currently 83 percent of students attend a public school and 17 percent receive other forms of education, so it's clear many parents want more educational options for their children.

It is well-known that Betsy DeVos is a champion of school choice, an effort she has dedicated much of her life to. School choice is a movement to provide all parents, including families in low income households or children with exceptional needs, with the means to give their children the education they deserve. No child deserves to have the quality of their education dictated by their zip code.

Education choice programs include vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts. All are commendable programs, but ESAs are newer to the education choice arena and are viewed by many as the most significant education policy reform. All of these programs allow parents, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it, to pay for alternative forms of education for their children.

The 2016 election showed that educational freedom is a priority for voters and their families. Of the 121 state-level candidates supported by the American Federation for Children, a pro-school choice organization chaired by DeVos until her selection was announced, 108 won their elections.

It is clear that the one-size-fits-all policies prescribed by the federal government have not worked to improve education in the United States. As evidenced by her support for school choice, DeVos recognizes that the best way to improve education is to give the power back to the states. Or better yet, give it to the parents.

There has never been a better time for states to expand school choice. Thanks to the election, 2017 is poised to be a banner year for efforts in states from coast to coast to empower parents and students with education savings accounts, vouchers and other programs that increase school choice.

Congratulations, Betsy DeVos. Please make education great again! 

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ATR Supports Renaming Gravelly Point Park To Nancy Reagan Memorial Park

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Monday, January 30th, 2017, 6:17 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, Americans for Tax Reform detailed its support of H.R. 553 to rename Gravelly Point Park as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. The renaming of the park serves as a tribute to First Lady Nancy Reagan and the legacy she left behind. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga). Read the full letter below. 

January 23rd, 2017 

 

The Honorable Rob Bishop

Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources

United States House of Representatives

123 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Bishop,

I write in support of H.R. 553, legislation to redesignate Gravelly Point Park as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park.

As you know, I founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project in 1997 which is committed to preserving the legacy of the 40th President of the United States throughout the nation and abroad, by encouraging the naming of buildings, roads, landmarks, and schools after the late President. There are currently 151 domestic dedications in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries.

Reagan’s leadership left a resounding impact on the lives of citizens here at home and individuals worldwide.  His policies led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment.  Abroad, his disdain for communism moved him to set in place policies that would see the Soviet Union fall. 

First Lady Nancy Reagan’s life was also one dedicated to service and charity. Known for her passion for fighting alcohol and drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan has touched many lives and will continue to do so. She founded “Just Say No”, a drug and alcohol prevention campaign for youth that is still used in many school programs today. Through this passion, Nancy Reagan has left a legacy of her own.

This bill allows for Gravelly Point Park to be renamed as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park as a tribute to the First Lady. As an extension of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, ATR supports this legislation to commemorate Nancy Reagan.

All members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this legislation.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 


 

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Worker’s Choice: A Solution That Benefits Everyone

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, October 18th, 2016, 4:48 PM PERMALINK

Seventy percent of union members in Michigan agree that employees who choose to opt-out of union membership should represent themselves in negotiations with their employer. As it stands, current policy does not allow that to happen.

Michigan is seeking to change the norm with Worker’s Choice, introduced to the state legislature this year by State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland. First championed by Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Vincent Vernuccio, Worker’s Choice provides a simple solution that works for employees, unions and even employers in the public sector. The policy allows for employees to represent themselves in negotiations with their employer if they choose to opt out of union membership.

Unions present in a public sector workplace are required to represent all employees, whether they are dues-paying members or not. Unions claim that these employees who have opted out are “free-riding”, or receiving their services without membership.

On the flipside, employees aren’t free from union grasp either. Each employee is unique, and they all have different needs. These employees may be subject to working conditions not suitable for their lifestyle, and they can’t do anything about it.

Worker’s Choice solves both of these concerns by severing the relationship between nonmembers and unions, so that nonmembers can represent themselves should they desire different working conditions.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

As recently explained in an ATR op-ed on Worker’s Choice, employers have something to gain from the policy as well:

“Employers would benefit from Worker’s Choice because, by increasing the odds of employees appreciating their hours, salaries and other terms of employment, workplace morale and loyalty would likely increase.”

Lastly, even union members can benefit from Worker’s Choice. The policy would provide competition in the workplace between individuals representing themselves for better working conditions, and union members. This will incentivize unions to better represent their workers so as to retain union membership.

 Worker’s Choice is a fair policy that works for everyone. It would end unions’ concern that they are being taken advantage of, grant workers the freedom to negotiate on behalf of themselves and potentially make things better for union members and employers.

Read ATR’s full op-ed on Worker's Choice here


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