2020 contender Kamala Harris calls for ban of 'right to work' laws

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., indicated on Saturday that she would use the "bully pulpit" to fight "right-to-work" laws, describing them as an attack on workers' rights.

"The barriers to organized labor being able to organize and strike are something that have grown over a period of time," the 2020 presidential hopeful said while speaking at the National Forum on Wages and Working People.

At the event, Harris emphasized the bully pulpit and executive authority to fight for workers' rights and specifically mentioned right-to-work laws.

"It has to be about, for example, banning right-to-work laws," she said.

The event, organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Center for American Progress, sought to "provide an opportunity for thought leaders to go beyond talking points and share concrete plans to rebalance our economy and democracy," according to its website.

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Harris' comments came after years of states like Michigan and Virginia debating controversial right-to-work laws — which would allow workers to exempt themselves from joining a union or paying its fees — as well as last year's Supreme Court decision, in Janus v. AFSCME, which said mandatory public union fees violated the First Amendment.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a fellow 2020 contender, also said in April that he would work to ban right-to-work laws, which exist in 26 states.

Either could face off against President Trump, whom many saw as a more appealing candidate for workers and labor unions given his stances on immigration and trade.

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Trump has praised the Janus decision, describing it as a "Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!"

And during his 2016 campaign, Trump supported right-to-work legislation

"We've had great support from [union] workers, the people that work, the real workers, but I love the right to work," he said. "I like it better because it is lower. It is better for the people," he added.