COLUMBIA -- State Rep. Tim Scott wants South Carolina to do more to protect what he sees as the state's biggest job recruitment tool, its right-to-work laws, from any possible federal encroachment.
Scott, a North Charleston Republican who wants to be lieutenant governor, plans to introduce a resolution as early as this week intended to encourage local and state government to emphasize the state's low union presence as a selling point in economic development efforts.
South Carolina's labor practices have been credited as a top recruitment tool in landing Boeing Co.'s second Dreamliner jet production line. Scott wants to promote that so Boeing's suppliers follow the aeronautics giant to North Charleston.
Scott also is researching legislative ways to bolster states' rights as a way to stop the federal government from imposing any new employment standards.
"Our strategic advantage is our right-to-work status," he said. "It is part of our DNA."
Labor laws in South Carolina allow employees to be fired with or without cause. The right-to-work status also prevents unions from denying individuals the ability to work for a company if he or she is not a member of the union.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, a Charleston Democrat, said the rights of the federal government and its power to dictate policy in the states are spelled out and he does not see anything the states can do to usurp that control.
So, to talk about strengthening states' rights seems to be political pandering, Stavrinakis said.
"There is always going to be a right to organize," he said. "In South Carolina, we have set a standard that people have a right to not organize. I don't think anything the federal government is going to do will change that."
The labor practices in the state are a good short-term recruiting tool, Stavrinakis said. In the long-term, however, South Carolina must make changes to its infrastructure and education system for economic development, he said.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican, said he applauds and supports Scott's efforts, which he said are practical, not pandering.
"We have to be careful to protect our right-to-work status," Harrell said. "We wouldn't have Boeing if we didn't have the strong right-to-work laws."
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