February 17, 2015

Michael Wasser

Right to Work Is Still Wrong for Everyone

Surprise! Jobs With Justice and an extremist anti-union special interest group agree on the impact of “right-to-work” laws. We argue that states don’t benefit from passing these misnamed laws. The National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) concurs.

The group’s spokesman told the Wisconsin State Journal, “We’re not purporting to prove that right to work produces superior economic performance.”

Indeed the data makes this point clear. Right-to-work laws don’t benefit workers, businesses or communities:

  • People living in right-to-work states earn approximately$1,500 less than those in states without those laws. The wage disparity is even greater for women and workers of color.
  • Communities lose jobs when wages are lowered. Economists estimate that every $1 million in wage cuts contributes to the loss of 6 jobs.
  • Right-to-work states make up 7 of the 11 states with the highest unemployment.
  • Men and women are less likely to have health insurance covered by employers. The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance for workers in right-to-work states is 2.6 percent less than those in non-right-to-work states.
  • Right-to-work states don’t improve business conditions, contributing to the law being a non-factor in business location decisions.

And yet, extremist politicians in several states keep pushing these toxic laws. We’ve seen, for example, right-to-work laws recently proposed in Missouri, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Right wing astroturf groups in Kentucky have even pursued local right-to-work laws at the county level, which are almost certainly prohibited by federal law. Not to be outdone, newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner just issued a right-to-work executive order for state employees, a legally questionable action.

As the data makes clear, these politicians aren’t pushing right-to-work laws because it’s good policy. Their efforts are part of a larger, sustained effort to lower workplace standards and weaken the voice of workers. Politicians also are making a cynical political calculation in pursuing right-to-work laws. It’s a strategy intended to benefit the CEOs and corporate lobby groups with the means to fill – and keep filling – campaign coffers with cash.

Fortunately it doesn’t take large campaign contributions to throw a wrench in these efforts to lower standards in our states. Let your family and friends know you’re not fooled. Share with them the facts that make clear right to work is wrong for everyone!

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