COLUMBIA -- Republican lawmakers vowed Tuesday to get even tougher on unions.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed an executive order to ensure striking workers don't receive unemployment benefits. And the House GOP caucus introduced a bill strengthening the state's already tough "right to work" law.
The state's right-to-work status means employees don't have to join a labor union as a condition of their employment.
Critics contend it's about inciting Republicans, not fixing any problem.
"This is politics of distraction at its worst," said Phil Bailey, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Referring to Haley, he said: "It's straw-man politics. She's built up a dummy so she can knock it down."
Haley acknowledged that state law already clearly disqualifies striking workers from collecting unemployment benefits. Her order directs the state director of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to notify the head of the state's unemployment agency about pending labor disputes.
The proposed legislation would increase civil and criminal penalties for unions that break the state's right-to-work law; require employers to post the state's right-to-work law; and require unions to submit detailed financial and membership data to the state's labor agency.