Right to Work Households Have More to Spend

‘No One Should Be Surprised That Forced Unionism Hurts Workers’

Cost of Living

A  National Institute for Labor Relations Research analysis of U.S. Census Bureau (BOC) data shows that the mean cost of living-adjusted, after-tax household income in Right to Work states in 2019 was $64,572, roughly $4,300 higher than the forced-dues state average.

In addition to the BOC, the Institute’s sources for this analysis are the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), a state government agency, and the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen explained the importance of MERIC regional cost-of-living data:

“For many years now, employees considering relocation to another state and companies seeking to hire capable employees from out of state have consulted the interstate cost-of-living indices calculated and published by MERIC.

“MERIC’s annual data for 2019 show that, among the 14 states with the highest overall cost of living that year, every single one allows union bosses to have employees terminated for refusal to join or pay dues to an unwanted union.

“However, 13 of the 15 lowest cost-of-living states are Right to Work states that protect employee freedom.”  

Forced-Dues States’ Average Tax Burden 13% Higher Than Right to Work States’

Along with housing, food and utility costs, overall tax burdens are substantially lower in Right to Work states than they are in forced-unionism states.

In 2019, according to estimates furnished by the Tax Foundation, residents of forced-unionism states forked over 30.6% of their total personal income in federal, state and local taxes, a 13% higher share than the Right to Work average.

“The bottom line,” said Mr. Leen, “is that households located in forced-dues states typically have thousands of dollars less to spend per year than households located in Right to Work states.

“The four states with the highest real, spendable mean household incomes in 2019 — Virginia, Texas, Utah and Georgia — are all Right to Work. And the five states with the lowest real, spendable incomes — Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Vermont, and New York — are all forced unionism. 

“No one should be surprised that forced unionism hurts workers, along with small business owners, taxpayers and retirees.”

Mr. Leen elaborated: “The forced-union-dues system foments hate-the-boss class warfare in many workplaces.

“It helps Big Labor impose and perpetuate counterproductive and costly work rules.

“And union bosses funnel a large share of the forced union dues and fees they collect through this system into the campaigns of Tax & Spend, regulation-happy state and local politicians.

“Undoubtedly, this is an important reason why tax burdens are consistently higher on average in forced-unionism states than in Right to Work states.

Mr. Leen concluded that it is only logical that, in states where forced union dues and fees are still permitted, workers and other residents would end up with less purchasing power.

Cost of living-adjusted, after-tax federal data confirm that’s exactly what happens. But many commonly cited statistics regarding incomes in Right to Work states ignore regional cost-of-living differences completely.

Forced-Unionism Apologists Ignore the Relevant Data

For example, even though the BOC has calculated and published annually data measuring poverty in the 50 states with adjustments for regional differences in housing costs since 2011, Big Labor allies never reference these data, which show poverty in Right to Work states is lower than in forced-dues states.

Instead, forced-unionism apologists simply ignore the relevant data.

Some research regarding comparative living standards in Right to Work states and forced-dues states issued by the Big Labor-founded Economic Policy Institute (EPI) purports to factor in regional cost-of-living differences. 

But EPI publications routinely “under-compensate for the effect of living costs on wages,” as a 2015 Heritage Foundation paper demonstrated.

“Ordinary Americans who know in their hearts that compulsion of employees is morally wrong should never allow themselves to be taken in by such special pleading,” concluded Mr. Leen.