This fall, members of grass-roots groups based in states as diverse as Montana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire are striving with all their might to follow in the footsteps of Indiana and Michigan Right to Work advocates.
Freedom-loving citizens in Montana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire, as well as in other states like Ohio, Delaware and Colorado, are turning up the pressure on their state legislative and executive candidates to oppose forced unionism.
And proponents of making union membership fully voluntary now sense they have the wind at their back, largely because of the recent enactments of the 23rd and 24th state Right to Work laws in Indiana and Michigan, respectively.
The calendar year these two statutes were adopted, 2012, was the first since 1954 in which two states prohibited the firing of employees for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.
Real Employee Compensation in Right to Work States Grew y 16% Over Past 10 Years
One reason public efforts to enact more state Right to Work laws are intensifying is persistently slow nationwide economic growth in the more than five years since the official end of the 2008-2009 national recession.
With overall U.S. employment and incomes rising only at a snail’s pace, every state is under more pressure to capture as great a share as possible of all domestic growth.
And a wide array of evidence strongly indicates that having a Right to Work law on the books does help a state garner more job-creating and income-raising business investments.
For example, inflation-adjusted U.S. Commerce Department data show that, from 2003 to 2013, private-sector employee compensation (including wages, salaries, bonuses and benefits) increased by 16.0% in the 22 states that protected the Right to Work throughout the entire period.
That real gain is more than half again as great as the national average and nearly double the average for the 26 states that lacked Right to Work laws for the whole decade. (Since they passed Right to Work laws in 2012, Indiana and Michigan are excluded.)
But the fact is, grass-roots support for the Right to Work principle is not driven primarily by economics.
Each Worker Is ‘Entitled’To ‘Do as He Pleases’ With ‘The Fruit of His Labor’
National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen commented:
“Most Americans who care strongly enough about the Right to Work to lobby their state candidates to support legislation barring forced union dues and fees believe that corralling a worker into an unwanted union is just plain wrong.
“Today’s Right to Work activists recognize what Abraham Lincoln recognized back in 1858, when he observed, in an Illinois speech rejecting the notion that slavery is morally or politically acceptable when imposed by popular vote:
“‘I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights.’”
Mr. Leen added that, besides being morally right, standing up for each worker’s freedom to do as he or she pleases with the fruit of his or her labor is politically smart.
Appeasement Doesn’t Work
“Less than a year after the Indiana Legislature voted to enact a state Right to Work law,” Mr. Leen explained, “Hoosier voters responded by granting the Republicans expanded majorities in both chambers, and by a full nine seats in the case of the House.
“And this year, among the 21 governors in both major parties who are seeking reelection, the only one who seems at this time to be almost certain to lose is Big Labor-appeasing Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett.
“Mr. Corbett has tacitly supported the forced-dues status quo in his state by refusing to lift a finger on behalf of any effort to pare back significantly union bosses’ special privileges.
“Of course, this stance has not quelled Big Labor opposition to Mr. Corbett’s reelection by even a whit. The union political machine is now going all out to unseat Mr. Corbett and install unabashedly pro-union monopoly Democrat Tom Wolf in his place. And polls strongly indicate this scheme will succeed.”