Right to Work State


Poster by: Ricardo Levins Morales–
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According to Work Place Fairness:

“Although they vary based on state law, most Right-to-Work laws prohibit labor unions and employers from entering into contracts that only employ unionized workers for the jobs in the contract. This allows employees to receive the benefits of the union contract without having to pay their share of dues and fees to the union. Essentially, these states allow workers to join a union if they wish, but employers cannot force or compel employees to join a union as a term or condition of employment.

n 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act was passed which prohibited arrangements where employers agree to hire only unionized workers. The act allows for “union shops,” which are arrangements in the workplace that require employees to join a particular union within a certain time-frame after they are hired. However, Taft Hartley created an exception to the “union shops” rule that allows for individual states to pass laws prohibiting union shops. These laws are now referred to as “Right-to-Work” laws.

In states without Right-to-Work laws, the workers covered by a union contract can refuse to join the union and then pay the fees associated with the workplace bargaining. States with Right-to-Work laws require union contracts to cover all workers, not just the ones who are members of the union.

This problem can reduce the union’s bargaining strength, which ultimately results in lower wages and benefits.

Contrary to what proponents of Right-to-Work legislation have said in the past, non-Right-to-Work states do not force employees to unionize; this is strictly prohibited by federal law.

Currently, 25 states have Right-to-Work laws. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming”

For more information on an individual states laws click on this link

Pros and Cons

Proponents of Right to Work states claim:

  1. It gives employees the freedom to choose if they want to join a union or not.
  2. It can lower school taxes/property taxes by eliminating teacher unions.
  3. It can hold unions accountable because they have to recruit members.

The consequences of Right to Work states:

  1.  It reduces union bargaining strength giving corporations more power over worker pay, rights and benefits, including health care coverage.
    • Right to Work States statistically have- Have Lower Wages and Incomes
      – Have Lower Rates of Health Insurance Coverage
      – Have Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates
      – Invest Less in Education
      – Have Higher Workplace Fatality RatesFor more info visit this link
  2. After the New Deal which supported Labor Unions, income inequality was low and worker rights were high.  Reagan’s presidency begin a new era of Repulbican attacks against unions causing unions to decline as income inequality has grown to levels the US hasn’t seen since the 1920s.  Worker rights, pay and benefits have stagnated and decreased to levels that has significantly decreased the middle class.
  3. List of benefits US has due to Unions that could go away without Union Support:
    1. 40 hour work week
    2. Minimum wage
    3. Living wage increases
    4. Health Insurance
    5. Paid Leave
    6. Pension
    7. Social security
    8. Medicare
    9. Safety standards
    10. Child labor laws
    11. The middle class



Learn More

Work Place Fairness: Right to Work Laws

Economic Policy Institute: Union decline and rising inequality in two charts


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Right to Work is Wrong for Everyone