"Right to Work" Doesn't Work

It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions.
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"Right-to-work" is a Fallacy

"Right-to-work" supporters falsely claim that this anti-labor legislation protects workers who don’t want to join a union, or who disagree with a union’s policies. But federal labor law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union or make political contributions.

The so-called "right to work" law’s true purpose is to hurt the ability of unions to advocate for workers and serve as a check on corporate greed. Don't be fooled: "Right to work" is a clever euphemism which, like a Trojan Horse, conceals a policy designed to weaken working people and further empower corporate interests.

Americans hold their rights sacred. But what rights matter more to the hard-working people of this country: the right to be a free rider who won't support or pay dues to the union that continues to represent them and their interests--the right to let others do all the work for them? Or the right to have a voice, fight injustice, earn a fair wage, and be treated with respect?


False Claims, False Promises:

“Right to Work” is Wrong for Everyone

Across the country, workers are facing a barrage of legislative attacks on their rights to form unions and bargain collectively, including so-called "right-to-work" legislation. Anti-worker, anti-labor "right-to-work" laws allow workers in a shop covered by the benefits of a union contract to refuse to pay dues, letting union members alone carry the burden for them; in other words, some workers may now become free riders, refusing to help pay the expenses that the union incurs while protecting their rights and the rights of all employees, but still reap all of the benefits... while they last.

Contrary to claims from its supporters, "right to work" offers no protection or economic benefits for workers. In fact, studies show that these deceptively titled laws actually drive down wages, benefits, and overall living standards for everyone. And research reveals that "right-to-work" laws do not even create jobs or improve a state’s business climate, as many proponents claim.

The only purpose of these laws is to weaken the bargaining power of working people and keep wages as low as possible. Short of outlawing unions--which are protected under the constitution--this is the next best thing to accomplishing that end.


Read on to learn why right to work is wrong for workers, businesses, and our economy:

"Some opponents (such as Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit) have argued that while a wonderfully effective political slogan, 'right-to-work' is a misnomer because the lack of such a law does not deprive anyone of the right to work; a right-to-work law simply 'gives employees the right to be free riders--to benefit from collective bargaining without paying for it'.[15][16] Khalenberg and Marvit also argue that at least in efforts to pass a right-to-work law in Michigan, the exclusion of police and firefighter unions—traditionally more friendly to Republicans—from the law, belied claims that the law was simply an effort to improve Michigan's businesses climate, not to seek partisan advantage.[15]

Opponents argue that right-to-work laws restrict freedom of association, and limit on the sorts of agreements individuals acting collectively can make with their employer, by prohibiting workers and employers from agreeing to contracts that include 'fair share fees'. This creates a free rider problem[4][17] among non-union employees who find the union contract beneficial. Thus, union members may end up subsidizing non-union members.[4][18] Moreover, American law imposes a duty of fair representation on unions; consequently non-members in right to work states can and do force unions to provide without compensation grievance services that are paid for by union members. Hence right-to-work laws are not neutral, but rather impose an active and artificial burden on labor unions.

Critics from organized labor have argued since the late 1970s[19] that while the National Right to Work Committee purports to engage in grass-roots lobbying on behalf of the 'little guy', the National Right to Work Committee was formed by a group of southern businessmen with the express purpose of fighting unions, and that they "added a few workers for the purpose of public relations".[20]

The unions also contend that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and National Right to Work Committee have received millions of dollars in grants from foundations controlled by major U.S. industrialists like the New York-based Olin Foundation, Inc., which grew out of a family manufacturing business.[20][21]

In December 2012, an editorial in the libertarian publication Reason magazine wrote: 'I consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association. So I'm not cheerleading for the right-to-work law just passed in Michigan, which bans closed shops in which union membership is a condition of employment. I'm disappointed that the state has, once again, inserted itself into the marketplace to place its thumb on the scale in the never-ending game of playing business and labor off against one another. ... This is not to say that unions are always good. It means that, when the state isn't involved, they're private organizations that can offer value to their members.'"

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law (references below)


Wrong for Workers

These laws drive down wages for all workers, including non-union members, women, and people of color. Workers living in "right-to-work" states earn about $1,500 less per year than workers in states without these laws. The wage penalty is even higher for women and workers of color.
www.epi.org/publication/bp299

Workers in "right-to-work" states are less likely to have health insurance. The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance for workers in "right-to-work" states is 2.6 percentage points lower than in states without these restrictions.
www.epi.org/publication/bp299

"Right to work" makes workplaces more dangerous.  According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 52.9 percent higher in right-to-work states.
http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/2012-Death-on-the-Job-Report

Wrong for Businesses

"Right-to-work" laws do not improve business conditions in states.
www.bepress.com/rle/vol5/iss1/art25

"Right to work" is not a deciding factor in where businesses locate.
www.areadevelopment.com/AnnualReports/jan2011/25th-annual-corporate-executive-survey48843.shtml

High-tech companies that provide good-paying, American jobs favor states where unions have a strong presence, because unions provide a highly skilled workforce and decrease turnover.
www.itif.org/files/2010-state-new-economy-index.pdf

Wrong for the Economy

Communities lose jobs when wages are lowered by right to work. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that for every $1 million in wage cuts, the local economy sheds six jobs.
www.epi.org/publication/working-hard-indiana-bad-tortured-uphill

"Right to work" does not improve the employment rate. In fact, eight of the 12 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws.
www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

According to a report from Ohio University, these laws actually led to a decrease in employment in certain industries.
econpapers.repec.org/article/sejancoec/v_3a73_3a2_3ay_3a2006_3ap_3a402-418.htm


Learn more about right to work and get involved at www.wrongforeveryone.com


References:

  1. "Right to Work" Isn't a Civil Right. But Unionizing Should Be| Richard D.Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit| December 13, 2012
  2. Gould, Elise; Shierholz, Heidi (2011). "The Compensation penalty of "right-to-work" laws"" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  3. Dinan, Elizabeth (January 14, 2011). "N.H. Rep. proposes right to work law". Seacoast Online. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  4. Greenhouse, Steven (January 3, 2011). "States Seek Laws to Curb Power of Unions". The New York Times. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. "Examining the opposition's tangled web — the who's who in the right wing". The Machinist. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO/CLC. October 1977. p. 4.
  6. http://www.uawlocal3520.org/right%20to%20workfliner.pdf[dead link] "Questions and Answers about the National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation," United Auto Workers, Accessed February 3, 2008.
  7. "Meet the billionaires behind No Rights At Work". 27 January 2013. Teamster Nation. Retrieved 14 February 2013.