Sanders calls for ban on state right-to-work laws

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Iowa Democrats brace for caucus turnout surge MORE (I-Vt.), who's vying for the Democratic nomination for president, called for a federal ban on so-called right-to-work laws in a Monday speech.

Speaking to the International Association of Machinists at the union's conference in Las Vegas, Sanders said as president he would push legislation in Congress to prohibit the laws. Right-to-work laws bar unionized workplaces from negotiating contracts under which all members who benefit from the contract must contribute dues. Twenty-six states currently have right-to-work laws on the books.

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“We need elected officials and candidates at every level to get serious about speaking out for the trade union movement. This should not be an afterthought,” Sanders said. “If we’re talking about growing wages, providing health care to all people, having a progressive tax system, the trade union movement must be in the middle of all of those discussions.”

In his speech, Sanders also expressed solidarity with machinists currently in negotiations with American Airlines.

“Right now, American Airlines wants to slash the pay of its workers, outsource jobs, take away health care benefits, and abolish its defined benefit pension plan,” Sanders said. “If you have enough money to buy back $15 billion of your own stocks, you damn well have enough money to pay your union workers a decent wage with good benefits. Go back to the negotiating table. Bargain in good faith. Treat your workers with the dignity and the respect they deserve.”

Sanders’s presidential campaign is the first in history to be unionized. In polls of the Democratic presidential field, he has consistently come in second to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Democrats sense new momentum in Trump tax return fight Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie becomes first African to deliver Yale graduation speech MORE, who has not yet formally announced a presidential bid.