Bidding to maintain South Carolina's anti-union status, Republican legislators want to exempt businesses from a proposed federal rule that they notify workers of their rights to unionize.
The so-called "employer free speech act," co-sponsored by 63 House members, is the latest show of lawmakers' disdain for unions in a state that markets itself as anti-union. A House panel advanced the bill Wednesday to the full Judiciary Committee.
"South Carolina has long prided itself on being a right-to-work state," said the main sponsor, Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. "I have a visceral objection to employers being forced to espouse rhetoric they don't support."
He also said the anti-union status is a key development tool in South Carolina, which recently has lured such big projects as a Boeing Inc. jetliner plant and an Amazon warehouse while struggling with an unemployment rate above 10 percent.
South Carolina's conservative leadership has repeatedly battled the federal government under President Obama's administration, most prominently on the federal health care law. Last week, Republicans in the House pushed through a measure meant to eventually allow states to repeal federal mandates, through a long and unlikely path involving a Constitutional Convention.