WHAT DO ‘RIGHT-TO-WORK’ LAWS DO TO A STATE’S ECONOMY?
The Answers You Need
1) RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS TEND TO WEAKEN LABOR UNIONS.
This is one thing the left and right agree on. If unions are barred from requiring employees to pay the cost of representation, there's a free-rider problem. Why bother sending money to my union if I'll benefit from its bargaining efforts regardless? Pretty soon, unions are drained of funds and can't launch as many organizing drives or wield influence.
2) UNDER RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS, WORKERS REAP FEWER GAINS FROM ECONOMIC GROWTH.
Supporters of right-to-work laws often argue that they'll help attract more businesses to a state. Opponents retort that weakening unions will lead to an erosion of wages. (A large Economic Policy Institute study from 2011 found that, after controlling for a host of factors, right-to-work states have lower wages on average than pro-union states.)
So business owners gain, and workers lose.
3) THE BROADER ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS ARE OFTEN DIFFICULT TO DISENTANGLE.
In 2001, Oklahoma passed a right-to-work law and soon saw its manufacturing base shrivel. One reason why it's so difficult to determine cause and effect is that only about 7 percent of private-sector U.S. workers are currently unionized — a small (and dwindling) slice of the workforce. What's more, companies make decisions on where to locate for a whole slew of reasons, from energy costs to infrastructure.
“RIGHT-TO-WORK” STATES STILL HAVE LOWER WAGES
Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, and the Supreme Court has made clear that workers cannot be forced to pay dues used for political purposes. So-called right-to-work (RTW) legislation goes one step further and entitles employees to the benefits of a union contract—including the right to have the union take up their grievance if their employer abuses them—without paying any of the cost.
WHAT IS THE ACTUAL EFFECT OF ADOPTING A RIGHT-TO-WORK LAW?
Rigorous studies—using regression analysis to home in on the effect of RTW laws— show that RTW laws:
reduce wages by $1,500 a year, for both union and nonunion workers, after accounting for different costs of living in the states (Gould and Shierholz 2011)
lower the likelihood that employees get healthcare or pensions through their jobs—again, for both union and nonunion employees (Gould and Shierholz 2011)
have no impact whatsoever on job growth (Lafer and Allegretto 2011)
WHAT'S THE REAL STORY?
Right to work solves a nonexistent problem
The name “right to work” is a lie. The federal government already protects workers’ freedom not to join a union. Workers can decide to opt out of membership at a unionized workplace and pay a reduced fee that covers the costs the union pays to negotiate for wages and benefits and represent an employee if they have a problem at work. Opponents of unions frequently claim that workers who decline to join a union are still legally required to support that union’s political activities. In reality, however, these fees exclude the costs of political activities.
What the federal right-to-work law would really do is give some workers a free ride. Anti-union workers could opt out of paying any fees to a union, even though unions would still be legally required to represent them. As a result, nonmember employees would receive higher wages and benefits negotiated by a union without paying the cost of negotiating for these improvements, and those who encounter problems at work would receive free representation by the union. And, by allowing some workers a free ride, the law would inhibit workers who want to come together in unions from getting enough power to negotiate on even footing with employers for better wages, benefits, and work conditions.
‘Right to Work’ Hurts Students, Teachers and Public Education
What’s it like to be an educator in a so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) state? You have less power to advocate for student learning conditions and educator working conditions. Take April Miller, an Arizona educator who had 35 second graders crammed into her classroom—energetic 7- and 8-year-olds with 35 different personalities and learning abilities who Miller had to teach with absolutely no support. Arizona is a right-to-work state.
STUDY FINDS INDIANA COMMON CONSTRUCTION WAGE REPEAL REDUCED WORKER PAY, DIDN'T SAVE MONEY ON PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS
When Gov. Mike Pence signed the 2015 repeal of Indiana's common construction wage statute, the Republican proclaimed that eliminating county minimum pay rates for public works projects would save the state and local governments money without reducing the paychecks of Hoosier workers.
Three years later, the first in-depth, non-partisan analysis of the impact of Indiana's common construction wage repeal suggests that Pence was wrong.
*Worker pay, productivity decline
*No public works saving
*Legislative reaction "It hasn't saved us a penny."
NEW REPORT FROM PRO-LABOR GROUP PANS RIGHT-TO-WORK PROPOSALS
“The real goal of right-to-work is just to weaken unions,” Fichtenbaum said. “Unions help working people actually have a say at what’s going on in their workplace.”