Compulsory Unionism Linked to Substandard Economic Performance
U.S. Department of Labor data accessible on the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website show that the number of civilian household jobs (a broad measure that includes the self-employed and contractors as well as workers on employer payrolls) grew by just 4.9% from 2006 to 2016.
But some states fared far better than others.
The 22 states that had already had Right to Work laws on the books back in 2006 enjoyed overall household employment growth of 8.1% over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, aggregate employment in the 24 states that still lacked Right to Work protections for employees as of the end of last year grew by just 3.5%, or less than half the Right to Work average.
(The four states that switched from forced-unionism to Right to Work between 2012 and 2016 are excluded from this analysis and what follows. Kentucky and Missouri, whose Right to Work laws were adopted this year, are counted as forced-unionism states here.)
In 2015, Right to Work States’ Compensation Advantage Was Roughly $1600
Eight states suffered employment losses of at least 0.5% from 2006 to 2016. Of these, seven are non-Right to Work states. Meanwhile, all of the top four states for 10-year employment growth are Right to Work states.
In addition to being correlated with faster job growth, Right to Work laws are correlated with higher real compensation per private-sector employee.
U.S. Commerce Department data, adjusted for interstate differences in cost-of-living according to an index calculated by the Missouri and Economic Research Information Center (MERIC), a state government agency, show that average compensation per private-sector employee in Right to Work states in 2015 was $46,057.
That’s $1582 higher than the average for forced-unionism states.
The combined Commerce Department and MERIC data also show that the Right to Work employee compensation advantage has greatly widened over the course of the past few years.
In 2010, for example, when 22 states had bans on forced unionism in the books, the average cost-of-living-adjusted compensation per Right to Work state employee was $110 higher than the average for states permitting the termination of employees for refusal to bankroll Big Labor.
Since Early 2012, Six States Have Adopted Right to Work Measures
“The ample evidence indicating that forced unionism results in diminished growth in jobs and smaller compensation gains for employees is one reason prompting more and more Americans to get involved in efforts to pass Right to Work laws in their states,” said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.
Mr. Mix added that, thanks to intensified local grass-roots activism as well as persistent, effective mobilization efforts by Committee staffers and members, just since January 2012 the total number of Right to Work states has risen from 22 to 28.
But despite lopsided public support for Right to Work laws, which has been confirmed by well over half a century of scientific polling, and despite all the evidence of their economic benefits, passing a state prohibition on forced union dues normally requires a long and difficult fight.
It’s not hard to understand why.
Drawing on disclosure forms private-sector union officials are required to file with the federal government as well as other sources, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has estimated that Big Labor rakes in a total of roughly $14 billion a year in mostly compulsory dues, fees and assessments.
And union bosses deploy a large share of that money for politics and lobbying.
Keystone and Buckeye States Represent Right to Work Opportunities
Enacting a Right to Work law requires persuading elected officials that, despite the ample resources available to the union political machine, it is in their best interest to stand up to it.
Currently, freedom-loving citizens’ efforts to pass Right to Work legislation in the 22 remaining forced-unionism states are being assisted by regional groups such as the Keystone State Right to Work Committee and Mid-America Right to Work.
This spring and summer, these two groups will be helping the National Committee to mobilize Pennsylvanians and Ohioans to contact their legislators with postcards, petitions, letters, and phone calls, urging them to support and seek roll-call votes on pending forced-dues repeal legislation.
Lobbying efforts to get legislators on the record regarding Right to Work protections for employees are also gaining momentum in Minnesota, Delaware and Maine.
Even in Big Labor Stronghold States, Citizens ‘Eventually Get Fed Up’
In state after state, there is a growing recognition among elected officials that perpetuating the forced-unionism status quo will routinely result in substandard economic performance.
“States like Pennsylvania and Ohio have long had reputations as Big Labor strongholds,” commented Mr. Mix. “Indeed, union bosses remain very powerful in Harrisburg and Columbus, largely because of their government-backed domination of public-sector employment.
“However, when a state’s employment and compensation growth lag far behind the national average year after year, even as the national average itself remains quite unimpressive, 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, as we have seen in recent years in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, and in Kentucky and Missouri this year.”
Laws’ ‘Fundamental Purpose Is to Protect the Employee’s Personal Freedom of Choice’
“As we head into the middle of 2017,” Mr. Mix continued, “the pressure on state politicians is mounting.
“That’s true not just in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Delaware and Maine, but also in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.”
Mr. Mix added that, as impressive as Right to Work states’ relative job and income growth have been, the primary motivation for supporters of state efforts to pass additional bans on forced union dues is to do what is fair and just.
“The Right to Work is a matter of morality as well as economics,” he said.
“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 22 forced-unionism states.
“No American should be forced to join or bankroll a union as a condition of employment.
“In order to realize this goal, the Committee continues to work for passage of national Right to Work legislation [H.R.785 and S.545] repealing all federal labor law provisions that authorize forced union dues and fees.
“Effectively, that would make all 50 states Right to Work states for private-sector employees.”