Right to Work States Lead Manufacturing Rebound

Payrolls Rose by 9.3% From 2011-21, as Forced-Dues Payrolls Fell

In early 2020, American manufacturing employment plummeted. Factories were shuttered across the U.S. and the entire world as part of an extraordinary political effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was one of the most sudden and dramatic setbacks for domestic factory employees ever. 

But to the surprise of many observers, manufacturing jobs began returning for American workers in mid-2020, and the employment recovery continued throughout 2021.

The 27 states with Right to Work laws on the books prohibiting the termination of employees for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union deserve the lion’s share of the credit.

In 2021 Alone, Right to Work States’ Factory Employment Rose by 150,000

Last year, according to data compiled by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), manufacturing payroll employment in Right to Work states rose by 150,000, or 2.3%.

In both percentage and absolute terms, this was roughly triple the overall increase for the 23 remaining states where firing employees simply for refusal to pay union dues or fees is still permitted.

Viewed over longer periods, the economic contrast between Right to Work and compulsory-unionism states is even more stark.

 For example, from 2011-21, the 22 states that had Right to Work protections for the entire decade saw a total increase of 9.3% in private-sector manufacturing employment.  That represents a gain of over 400,000 jobs.

Over the same period, the five states that switched from forced unionism to Right to Work between 2012 and 2017 — Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Kentucky — saw their factory payrolls’ grow by 11.3%, or 188,000. Pre-Right to Work, none of these states was regarded an economic powerhouse.

Recent Announcements Indicate Right to Work Manufacturing Job Growth Hasn’t Let up

Meanwhile, manufacturing employment in the 23 states that still lack Right to Work protections today saw an overall decrease of 0.5%; that’s a net loss of 29,000 jobs.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented:

“The fact is, when they have a choice, businesses overwhelmingly favor expanding in Right to Work states, where their employees are protected from forced unionization, over Big Labor-dominated states.

“And recent reports of large manufacturers adding to their investments in Right to Work states indicate that their manufacturing recovery isn’t letting up this year, even as the national economy seems unfortunately to be grinding to a halt.

“In February, for example, California-based Omnis Building Technologies announced plans to make a $40 million investment to build a 150,000 square-foot factory in Bluefield, W.Va.

“The factory will produce building materials for homes. When fully operational, it will employ up to 300 people full time.

“Also in February, Right to Work Mississippi received the news that Nissan, which has already poured $3.5 billion into the Canton vehicle-assembly plant located in the Magnolia State, will invest another $500 million there.

“This money will enable the company to upgrade 2,000 jobs at the plant so that two all-new EV models can begin being built there by 2025.

“It’s easy to understand why Right to Work protections are a powerful driver of economic growth.

“Without Right to Work protections, workers are more likely to be forced into one-size-fits-all union contracts that foster work stoppages, wasteful work rules, job featherbedding, and a union-label ‘hate the boss’ mentality.”

Committee Members Won’t Be Satisfied Until Right to Work Is Protected Nationwide

“With the benefits of Right to Work as evident as they are,” continued Mr. Mourad, “it’s outrageous that roughly half the private-sector employees in the U.S. remain vulnerable to being forced to support a union financially in 2022.

“National Right to Work members and supporters won’t be satisfied until the Right to Work is protected nationwide.

“That’s why Committee members and leaders are tenaciously fighting to build congressional support for, and ultimately pass into law, S.406/H.R.1275, better known as the National Right to Work Act.

“By repealing every provision in federal labor law that currently authorizes forced union dues and fees as a job condition, S.406/H.R.1275 would ensure that no business employee anywhere in America has to choose between being fired and bankrolling a union he or she doesn’t want.

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