Right to Work's Electoral Clout Rising

(Source: January 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)
When Ronald Reagan was first elected, just 173 electoral votes of the 270 needed to become President came from Right to Work states. By the time Barack Obama again faces the voters, the number will be 220.

Ongoing Shift in U.S. Economic Base Has Political Implications 

For many years, states that have Right to Work laws protecting employees from being fired for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to an unwanted union have benefited from private-sector job and personal income growth that are, in the aggregate, well above the national average. 

Conversely, states that do not protect employees from forced unionism have collectively endured sub-par growth. 

At the turn of every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau tacitly confirms that America’s economic base is shifting from forced-unionism states to Right to Work states when it reapportions our nationwide political map. 

Such was the case again last month. 

On December 21, the Census Bureau announced that, after the 2012 elections, Right to Work Texas will gain four U.S. House seats, Right to Work Florida will add two, and five other Right to Work states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah — will pick up one seat apiece. 

Millions of Workers ‘Vote With Their Feet’ For Right to Work 

Starting at the beginning of 2012, Right to Work states will hold 176 out of 435 House seats, compared to the 167 they hold at present, and the 133 they held in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was first elected President. 

When it comes to the Electoral College, by which Presidents are officially chosen under the U.S. Constitution, just 162 electoral votes of the 270 needed to become President came from Right to Work states in 1968, the year of Richard Nixon’s first successful White House bid. 

In the 2000 showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Right to Work states cast 195 electoral votes. By 2012, when President Obama next faces the voters, the Right to Work share will rise to 220. 

Why are Right to Work states growing so much more rapidly? Census Bureau data indicate foreign immigration is not much of a factor, since it contributes roughly equally to the population growth of Right to Work and forced-unionism states overall. 

The key reason Right to Work states are growing more rapidly is that a net total of roughly five million people moved from forced-unionism states to Right to Work states over the course of the past decade. 

Out-migrants from forced-unionism states disproportionately consist of young adults, who are typically motivated by a desire to advance their careers, rather than climate and other lifestyle considerations. 

From 1998 to 2008, Right to Work states’ total population aged 25-34 grew by a healthy 16.0%, even as forced-unionism states’ contingent of young adults in that age bracket fell by 0.6%! 

Capitol Hill Denizens Should Recognize Political Landscape Has Changed 

And most of the huge net out-migration from forced-unionism states occurred during periods of low national unemployment. During such times, employees have been lured to Right to Work states not merely because jobs are available, but because they offer better opportunities and wages and salaries that are higher when regional differences in living costs and taxes are taken into account. 

“It’s in politicians’ best interest to pay heed not just to the congressional reapportionment itself, but also to the economic factors that shaped it,” commented National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen. 

“If millions of employees and their family members are ready to uproot their lives to find greener pastures in a Right to Work state, millions more will vote to oust politicians who perpetuate federally-imposed forced unionism,” noted Mr. Leen. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH 8th District)

“And as the share of Americans who know about Right to Work laws from personal experience continues to grow, the political price paid by congressmen and senators will become steeper yet.” 

Mr. Leen called on incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to heed the message of the congressional reapportionment. 

“By allowing a recorded floor vote on legislation repealing federally-imposed forced union dues and fees in the new Congress, Mr. Boehner can help ensure that American voters who oppose forced unionism will have the clear choice they deserve in 2012,” said Mr. Leen. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

“For his part, Mr. McConnell should lend his full support to efforts to secure a Senate floor vote on forced-dues repeal by offering it as an amendment to other related legislation. With the minority leader on their side, Senate Right to Work allies can get around Big Labor Democrat politicians’ roadblocks.”