Right to Work Manufacturing Powers Through COVID

Payrolls Rose by 9.1% From 2010-20, as Forced-Dues Payrolls Fell

Right to Work manufacturing jobs
Union czar Richard Trumka will accept nothing less than the total destruction of Right to Work laws. (Credit: labortribune.com)

More than 15 months after factories were shuttered across America and the entire world as part of the extraordinary political effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that neither the pandemic itself nor the lockdowns derailed a years-long U.S. comeback in manufacturing employment.

This comeback is occurring overwhelmingly in states, now 27 in number, that prohibit the extraction of forced union dues and fees from workers as a condition of employment.

From 2010 to 2020 manufacturing payroll jobs in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the entire 10-year period grew by 9.1%, or roughly 391,000.

Meanwhile in the 23 states that still lack Right to Work laws today, aggregate factory employment actually fell by 0.2%, or roughly 9,000.

Recovery Comes Sooner For Right to Work States, Which Reopened Faster   

The extraordinarily poor performance of forced-unionism states collectively is partly due to many Big Labor-funded politicians’ recent refusal to allow their states to reopen even as nearly all Right to Work states were reopening safely.

Measuring from the bottom of the recessionary trough in April 2020 to April of this year, the total number of manufacturing jobs in current Right to Work States grew by 6.1%, or 606,000. (Since five states have gone Right to Work since 2012, there are now a total of 27.)

Right to Work states’ jobs rebound was 63% greater than forced-dues states’ in percentage terms, and nearly double forced-dues states’ absolute increase.

Three of the top four states for April 2020-April 2021 job growth — Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky — are recent Right to Work adopters. All three barred forced union dues less than a decade ago.

Forced-unionism states were still suffering from the impact of the recession as of April 2021, with their aggregate manufacturing employment 5.2% below where it had been in March 2020.  Meanwhile, Right to Work states’ overall employment was just 3.3% below its level 13 months earlier. 

Of course, Big Labor-dominated states’ inhospitality towards factory employment long predates COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic hit the U.S., factory employment in non-Right to Work states was growing at less than one-third the aggregate pace of Right to Work states.

Combining the 22 states with longstanding Right to Work laws with the five that most recently passed them, manufacturing employment grew by approximately 675,000 from 2010-20.

Opportunities Expanding In Places Like Indiana As Pandemic Recedes

Toyota’s April announcement that it would invest an additional $802 million and create 1,400 new jobs at its Princeton, Ind., facility is emblematic of the post-COVID-19 manufacturing rebound in Right to Work states. (Credit: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc.)

Given the aforementioned numbers, it is not surprising that 54.2% of all manufacturing jobs today are located in Right to Work states. 

And manufacturing’s shift to Right to Work states seems to be accelerating post-COVID-19.

As we have already seen, Right to Work Indiana is a case in point. Its manufacturing rebound is exemplified by an announcement this spring from Toyota.

On April 29, the firm released its plan for $803 million in upgrades to its facility in Princeton to produce two new electric vehicles. Roughly 1,400 new jobs will be created as a result. 

This is in addition to previous investments in 2017 and 2020 totaling $1.3 billion, which added 550 jobs. 

The facility now makes 420,000 cars annually.

“It is no accident that Toyota has made billions of dollars in job-creating investments in Right to Work Indiana in recent years,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb.

The Sky Is the Limit For Manufacturing in Right to Work America

He continued:

“Having a Right to Work law has been a stimulant for economic growth for decades, but it has become particularly true this last decade, as several states in the Midwest can testify. 

“Above all, their manufacturing sectors illustrate how they have thrived compared to their compulsory-dues neighbors.

“As long as threats like the so-called ‘PRO’ Act — which would destroy all state Right to Work protections — at the federal level can be held at bay, there is no reason why more and more states cannot share in a strong and sustained post-shutdown manufacturing rebound.

“Short of enactment of the National Right to Work Act [S.406/H.R.1275], nothing else can help provide a bigger incentive and sign to say that a state is ‘Open for Business’ than implementation of Right to Work protections within its borders.” 

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. You can go here to access previous newsletter posts.

To support our cause and help end forced unionism, you can go here to donate.

NRTW Home » News » Right to Work Manufacturing Powers Through COVID