Grass-Roots Right to Work Efforts Expanding in Midwestern States
All across America, Right to Work states have long benefited from economic growth far superior to that of states in which millions of employees are forced to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union just to keep their jobs.
But over the past decade, the contrast between Right to Work states and forced-union-dues states has been especially stark in the Midwest.
Four Midwestern forced-unionism states — Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana — suffered absolute private-sector job declines over the past decade that were worse than those of any of the other 46 states. Midwestern forced-unionism states (the four just mentioned, plus Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota) lost a net total of 1.88 million private-sector jobs.
Combined, these seven forced-unionism states had 8.1% fewer private-sector jobs in 2009 than they did back in 1999.
Meanwhile, the five Midwestern Right to Work states (North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas) experienced an overall private-sector job increase of 2.3%.
Moreover, from 1999 to 2009, real personal income in Midwestern Right to Work states grew by 17.3% — an increase two-and-a-half times as a great as the combined real personal income growth in Midwestern forced-unionism states.
State Right to Work laws prohibit the firing of employees simply for exercising their right to refuse to join or bankroll an unwanted union.
At this time, 22 states have Right to Work laws on the books. However, because of intensifying grass-roots efforts in many of the remaining 28 forced-unionism states, the number of Right to Work states could be on the rise over the course of the next few years.
Recession’s End Won’t Suffice to Revive Big Labor-Controlled States
“More and more citizens of Big Labor-controlled states like Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana recognize that their states require fundamental reform in order to get their economies back on track,” observed National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.
“The fact is, compulsory unionism impedes private-sector job creation and income growth in every part of the business cycle. It’s clear that the national recession’s end won’t suffice to turn Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana around.
“On the other hand, there is strong evidence that economically troubled states could greatly accelerate their job and income growth by passing Right to Work legislation.”
One recent example of such evidence is a scholarly article by eminent economist Richard Vedder. A professor on the faculty of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and a specialist in labor, taxation and education issues, Dr. Vedder is the author of more than 100 academic papers as well as several books.
One of his books, coauthored with fellow Ohio University economist Lowell Galloway, is the acclaimed Out of Work. It received the Sir Anthony Fisher International Memorial Award and was also a Mencken Award Finalist.
In his article entitled “Right to Work Laws: Liberty, Prosperity, and Quality of Life,” appearing in the Winter 2010 edition of Cato Journal, Dr. Vedder reported the results of a regression analysis he did to test the economic impact of Right to Work laws.
Right to Work Law ‘Would Have Increased Per Capita Income by an Extra $2760’
Specifically, Dr. Vedder sought “to relate the rate of growth in real per capita personal income from 1977 to 2007 for the 48 contiguous U.S. states to the existence” of Right to Work laws.
The analysis controlled for each state’s tax burden, the share of its adults with college degrees, land area, and several other variables.
Dr. Vedder found “a very strong and highly statistically significant . . . positive relationship between” Right to Work laws and economic growth. He elaborated: Suppose two states both “had per capita income of $24,000 in 1977.”
Real per capita income in the state without Right to Work protections “would have risen to $36,000 in 2007, compared to $38,760” in the Right to Work state. Right to Work protections “would have increased per capita income by an extra $2760 — or over $11,000 annually for a family of four.”
Dr. Vedder concluded: While alternative models “might offer somewhat different conclusions, . . . based on existing evidence, a strong case can be made” that Right to Work laws “have a positive impact on U.S. living standards.”
But despite all the evidence of Right to Work laws’ economic benefits, and despite the fact that nearly 80% of Americans who regularly vote support the Right to Work as a matter of principle, passing a state Right to Work law is never easy.
Unions that file federal disclosure forms rake in a total of roughly $20 billion a year in (mostly forced) dues and fees, government grants, rents, interest, and other revenues. And union bosses deploy a huge share of that money for politics and lobbying.
Freedom-Loving Citizens Must Be Mobilized to Pass More Right to Work Laws
If freedom-loving citizens are to counter successfully the might of the union political machine and prevail upon their elected officials to adopt a state Right to Work law, they must first be mobilized.
For years, grass-roots efforts to pass Right to Work legislation in the Midwest have been assisted by state groups like the Lansing-based Michigan Right to Work Committee and the Indianapolis-based Indiana Right to Work Committee.
In state after state this summer, these groups are mobilizing pro-Right to Work citizens to contact their legislative and executive candidates with thousands of postcards, letters, and phone calls urging them to oppose forced unionism.
Already, many politicians who were riding the fence have decided to take a stand in favor of Right to Work.
“Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana have long had reputations as Big Labor strongholds,” commented Mr. Mix. “Union bosses remain very powerful in much of the Midwest, largely because of their government-backed domination of public-sector employment.
“However, when a state’s private-sector job gains are paltry or negative during periods of nationwide economic growth, and its job losses are out-sized during recessions, then its citizens eventually get fed up.
“Once a critical mass of ordinary people become determined to change the way their state operates, union special interests can’t stop them.
“That’s why, in 2010, the pressure on Great Lakes state politicians to support Right to Work is mounting, even in Michigan, of all places!”
Right to Work Laws A Matter of Principle
Mr. Mix added that a desire to make their states more economically successful is not the sole motivation for supporters of state Right to Work legislative efforts:
“The Right to Work is a matter of principle as well as economics. Right to Work laws’ fundamental purpose is to protect the employee’s personal freedom of choice.
“Commitment to principle helps explain why so many National Committee members who live in a state that already has a Right to Work law are eager to offer their assistance to efforts to pass such laws in the remaining 28 forced-unionism states.
“No American should be forced to join or bankroll a union as a condition of employment. That’s why the Committee also continues to work for passage of national Right to Work legislation repealing all federal labor-law provisions that authorize forced union dues and fees.
“Effectively, that would make all 50 states Right to Work states.”