You Keep More of Your Money Living in a Right to Work State
Right to Work’s Widening Compensation Advantage
Pro-Forced Dues Federal Policy Harms Employees, Firms
Today over 50% of all Americans live in one of the 27 states
with a Right to Work law on the books prohibiting the termination of employees
for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.
Twenty-two states have had such a law for at least a decade
and a half. Five states (Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and
Kentucky) have adopted and implemented Right to Work protections since the
beginning of 2012.
And in 23 states, compulsory union dues and fees are still
legally authorized and promoted.
‘Freedom of Association . . .Plainly Presupposes a Freedom
Not to Associate’
By the time the first Right to Work laws were approved
during the mid-1940’s, federal labor policy had already long prohibited
so-called “yellow-dog” contracts — that is, contracts under which a worker had
to agree, as a condition of employment, not to join and financially support a
The ban on “yellow-dog” contracts was and is supported by
the vast majority of Americans, who support individual freedom in the work
Pro-Right to Work citizens in particular emphatically
believe that the individual employee should be free to choose which private
organizations, if any, he or she financially supports, regardless of what the
goverment, the business owner, or other employees think.
State Right to Work laws simply specify that the personal
freedom of association guaranteed for the employee under federal policy must be
genuine and evenhanded.
After all, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan’s
1984 majority opinion in Roberts v. Jaycees acknowledged, “Freedom of
association . . . plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.”
There’s Ample Evidence Right to Work Laws are Economically Beneficial
Compulsory unionism is primarily a moral issue.
At the same time, there is ample evidence Right to Work laws are economically beneficial for employees, employers, and practically everyone else.
One key to understanding the connection between Right to
Work and higher living standards is awareness of interstate differences in the
cost of living.
The fact is, nonpartisan analysts such as the Missouri
Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), a state government agency,
consistently find that compulsory-unionism states as a group have a
substantially higher cost of living than do Right to Work states as a group.
MERIC’s data show that the 27 states that had Right to Work
laws on the books and in effect as of 2017 had a population-weighted cost of
living that year of 93.9 — 6.1% below the national average.
The 23 forced-unionism states combined had a
population-weighted cost of living of 119.8, or 19.8% above the national
In short, forced-unionism states were on average nearly 28%
more expensive to live in than Right to Work states in 2017.
When considered together with MERIC’s cost-of-living data,
statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis
(BEA) show that the real purchasing power of the average Right to Work state
employee’s paycheck is greater than it is for the average forced-unionism state
In 2017, Right to Work States’ Real Per Employee Compensation
According to the BEA, in 2017 there were 81.927 million
full-time and part-time private-sector employees (including contract employees
and the self-employed, as well as payroll employees) located in the 27 states
that currently have Right to Work laws on the books.
After adjusting BEA data for regional differences in the
cost of living with the help of MERIC’s indices for 2017, private-sector
employees in Right to Work states earned a total of $3.929 trillion in cash
compensation and benefits that year.
That comes to $47,963 per employee.
Meanwhile, the 86.521 million private-sector employees in
the 23 forced-unionism states took in a total of $4.000 trillion in cash
compensation and benefits, or $46,228 per employee.
Cost of living-adjusted compensation per employee is thus
more than $1,700 higher in Right to Work states.
Compulsory Union Dues and Fees Bankroll Growth-Hindering
The combined BEA and MERIC data show that the Right to Work
private sector employee compensation advantage has greatly widened over the
course of the past few years.
In 2013, when 24 states had bans on forced unionism on the
books, the average cost of living-adjusted compensation per Right to Work state
employee was roughly $800 higher than the average for states permitting the
termination of employees for refusal to fork over money to Big Labor.
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix
“It makes perfect sense that employees’ real purchasing
power and the growth of their purchasing power would be higher in Right to Work
states than in forced-unionism states.
“Union bosses funnel a large portion of the forced dues and
fees they collect with federal policy’s abetment into politics.
“And the union-label politicians who routinely get elected
and reelected because of their forced dues-funded support overwhelmingly favor
higher taxes and more red-tape regulation of businesses both large and small.
“The actions of forced dues-funded politicians thus result
in slower revenue growth for business, and that generally means slower growth
in cash pay and benefits for employees.
“Of course, Big Labor does the most damage in states where
union bosses rake in the most forced-dues money.
“But if Congress repealed all the current forced-dues
provisions in the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act] and the RLA [Railway
Labor Act], this massive impediment to economic growth nationwide would quickly
“Employees and businesses based in current Right to Work
states would share the benefits as their major out-of-state suppliers and
customers were freed from the burden of compulsory unionism.
“Forced-dues repeal would spur accelerated income and job
growth in all 50 states.”
Soon after this edition of the National Right to Work
Newsletter goes to press in early February, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is expected
to introduce federal forced-dues repeal legislation in the 116th Congress.
The forthcoming Paul measure, officially titled as the
National Right to Work Act, would not add a single word to federal law.
Instead, it would simply repeal the current provisions in
federal labor statutes that authorize compulsory union dues and fee payments as
a condition of employment.
Companion National Right to Work legislation will also be
introduced early this year in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Grass-Roots Efforts Underway To Build Capitol Hill
Support For Forced-Dues Repeal
“This winter, the 2.8 million Committee members are lobbying
hard to build Capitol Hill support for forced-dues repeal,” said Mr. Mix.
“Right to Work supporters are jubilant over the series of
victories we have scored at the state level since late in Barack Obama’s first
term in the White House. That’s entirely appropriate.
“But it should never cause us to forget that it’s Congress,
not any state legislature, that spawned the evil of forced union dues in the
“And even in the 27 states that have now enacted and put
into effect Right to Work laws, because of federally imposed loopholes, union
bosses still wield the power to get airline and railroad employees and
employees on so-called ‘exclusive federal enclaves’ fired for refusal to pay
dues or fees.
“Fortunately, the National Right to Work Act would close
these loopholes, which were drilled into all existing and future state Right to
Work laws by Congress and the federal courts.
“The fact is, even as the Right to Work movement gains more
and more strength, Congress continues to perpetuate the problem of
private-sector forced union dues.
“Ultimately, Congress must solve it once and for all by passing the National Right to Work Act.”
If you have questions about whether union officials are violating your rights, contact the Foundation for free help. To take action by supporting The National Right to Work Committee and fueling the fight against Forced Unionism, click here to donate now.
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