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Virginia lawmakers try to enshrine right-to-work law in state Constitution

As Americans everywhere celebrate work by taking a day off from it, the future of worker freedom in the Old Dominion isn't set in stone. And some Virginia lawmakers want to make sure it is. 

Virginia has long touted its status as a right to work state, meaning a person a person can't be denied a job or fired for not joining a labor union. But the law, despite its sacred status among Republicans and many Democrats, has never made it into the safety net of Virginia's Constitution. 

And as disagreements over the role of labor unions highlight the 2013 race for governor, the life and death of a law can hinge on who holds power. Lawmakers say the law is strong and safe for now -- but that isn't a guarantee for future generations. 

"I think it's important because the right-to-work law, as great as it is -- and I'm glad we have it -- it's statute and it's always subject to change," said Delegate Richard "Dickie" Bell, who attempted in both the 2012 and 2013 sessions to pass legislation that would begin the uphill battle of  enshrining the law in the state's constitution. 

"An administrative change or someone with opposing views to right to work, with the right numbers in place, could overturn it," Bell said. "I don't think that'll happen in Virginia in my lifetime, but the possibility does exist. If we make it a part of the constitution, it becomes much more permanent. And undoing it would be very difficult, if not impossible." 

But, nearly as impossible is etching something into Virginia's Constitution. The Old Dominion requires both the Senate and House of Delegates pass a bill in two separate legislative cycles, with an election in between those passages. Then, that bill has to go to the people for a vote at the ballot box. 

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