Right to Work

What is the Right to Work principle?

The Right to Work principle–the guiding concept of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC.org) and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW.org) — affirms the right of every American to work for a living without being compelled to belong to a union. Compulsory unionism in any form–“union shop,” “closed shop,” or “agency shop” –is a contradiction of the Right to Work principle and the fundamental human right of freedom that the principle represents.

The National Right to Work Committee advocates that every individual must have the right, but must not be compelled, to join a labor union.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation assists employees who are victimized because of their assertion of that principle.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Supreme Court Victory in Janus v. AFSCME gave Right to Work to all public sector (government) employees.

National Right to Work’s recent Supreme Court Victory in Janus v. AFSCME created newly-won “Janus Rights” provide Right to Work protections for all government employees. Additionally, every government employee must request union membership (opt-in) rather being forced by unions to annually opt-out of union membership.  Visit MyJanusRights.org for more information or to download forms to resign from an unwanted government union and exercise your Janus Rights.

What is a Right to Work law?

A Right to Work law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union. Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act affirms the right of states to enact Right to Work laws. The 27 states which have passed Right to Work laws are:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, KansasFlorida, GeorgiaIdaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, MississippiNebraska, NevadaNorth Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, TexasUtah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

For a discussion of the history of Right to Work laws, click here (pdf).

Is Right to Work “anti-union”?

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is neither “anti-union” nor “pro-union.” The focus is on individual freedom. The Foundation affirms the right of all Americans to be free of compulsory unionism abuses.

How does compulsory unionism affect government policy?

Compulsory unionism is primarily responsible for the Tax-and-Spend policies of the U.S. Congress. Under their federally-granted coercive powers, union officials collect some $4.5 billion annually in compulsory dues and funnel much of it into unreported campaign operations to elect and control congressional majorities dedicated to higher taxes and increased government spending.

“[U]nions have greatly increased their financial commitment to political activity in recent election cycles ” as a way to achieve in the political process the gains that have eluded them at the bargaining table,” economist James T. Bennett wrote in the Winter 1991 issue of the Journal of Labor Research. His authoritative study revealed that, despite membership losses, the total income ($11.5 billion annually) of private sector unions is at an all-time high. Union income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

What is “exclusive representation”?

“Exclusive representation” is the special coercive privilege, given by federal law, that empowers union officials to represent all employees in a company’s bargaining unit. This “compulsory union representation” deprives employees, even in Right to Work states, of their right to bargain for themselves. Union officials demand this power, then use it as their excuse to force employees to pay dues for representation they do not want.

What rights do employees in non-Right to Work states have?

Certain rights of employees not covered by a state Right to Work law have been established by U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Employees can choose whether or not to join a union and union members may resign their union membership. Nonmembers can only be required to pay for their proportionate part of the union’s proven bargaining costs. They may not be compelled to pay any fees until the costs have been stated and explained and can challenge the costs as provided by the union. Employees whose sincere religious beliefs prevent them from joining or paying any money to the union also have special rights.

What effect does a Right to Work law have on a state’s standard of living?

The National Right to Work Committee has called attention to the fact that Right to Work states enjoy a higher standard of living than do non-Right to Work states. Families in Right to Work states, on average, have greater after-tax income and purchasing power than do those families living in non-Right to Work states, independent studies reveal. What’s more, Right to Work states have greater economic vitality, official Department of Labor statistics show, with faster growth in manufacturing and nonagricultural jobs, lower unemployment rates and fewer work stoppages.

How does the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation differ from the National Right to Work Committee?

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee are separate and distinct organizations, however, their work is complementary.

The Foundation works solely through the courts to assist employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by abuses of compulsory unionism.

The Committee, founded in 1955, lobbies the Congress and state legislatures for the elimination of all forms of forced unionism. It also conducts a nationwide educational program on the Right to Work principle.