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South Dakota Right to Work Laws

Your ability to work is essential to your ability to live. State and federal laws regulate the relationship between employers and labor unions representing employees. While labor unions can collectively bargain for better pay and safer working conditions, problems can arise when workers don’t want to join them. There can be personal, financial, political, or employment-related objections to union membership. “Right to work” laws give employees the right to choose whether or not to join a union. Here’s a summary of South Dakota’s right to work laws.

South Dakota Right to Work Laws

South Dakota was one of the earliest right to work states. A state constitutional amendment passed in 1946 prohibits any person’s right to work from being “denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union, or labor organization.”  Currently, South Dakota is one of the twenty-five states in the country to enact right to work laws. The remaining twenty-five states don’t have similar protections in place. 

The state legislature has also passed criminal laws prohibiting attempts to interfere with a person's right to work. It’s a misdemeanor to force, threaten, or intimidate workers into joining a union. It’s also a crime to attempt to curtail someone’s free exercise of his or her right to work, demand that an employer hire certain employees and not others, and agree to limit someone’s right to work on account of union membership. Other laws protecting temporary workers during strikes and protecting workers’ ability to enter into a profession or trade exist too. Violations can be punished by imprisonment in a county jail and a fine.

Code Section 60-8-3, et seq.; 60-10-10; state constitution art. VI, § 2.
Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc. The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or organization.
Prohibited Activities

Any agreement relating to employment that denies the free exercise of the right to work;

Any coercion to enter into such an agreement;

Coercion of employee to join a union;

Interference with the right to work by use of force or violence.

Penalties Violations are Class 2 misdemeanors punishable by up to thirty days imprisonment in county jail and a $100 fine or both (22-6-2).

Related Resources for Right to Work Laws

You can find more information on state right-to-work laws, unions, and employment related legal matters on these pages. For more specific questions, we recommend speaking with a local employment lawyer.

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