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Arkansas Becomes the First “Right to Work” State

In 1943, the Christian American Association (CAA) convinced the State Legislature to make it a felony to use force or threats of violence to prevent individuals “from engaging in any legal vocation of their choice.” This measure had the potential to transform picketing into a felony—strikebreakers could claim that the mere presence of picketers constituted a threat of violence. The next year, the CAA joined with Arkansas Free Enterprise Association to circulate petitions to enact a law forbidding labor unions and companies from signing agreements requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The state’s voters approved the so-called “Right to Work” initiative in the fall of 1944.

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