So-Called “Right to Work”

The designation of “Right to Work” was created by the supporters and proponents of anti-labor interests to put a positive spin on an otherwise damaging statute.

On its surface, So-Called “Right to Work” laws prohibit worker security agreements between labor unions and their employers. In reality, these laws strip workers of protections afforded by unions by lowering wages and endangering worker safety and health.

So-Called “Right to Work” laws make it optional for workers protected by a union contract to help pay for the expenses that a union incurs while guaranteeing the rights of all employees. They restrict freedom of association by prohibiting workers and employers from agreeing to contracts that include fair share fees, forcing dues-paying union members to subsidize services to non-union employees.

States that adopt So-Called “Right to Work” laws are giving workers the “Right to Work for Less.” Wages are at least 3.2% lower in these states, which also feature much lower rates of employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions.
By many measures, quality of life is worse in states with right to work laws. Wages are lower, people are less likely to have health insurance and the necessary resources for a quality education, poverty levels are higher as are workplace fatality rates. According to the AFL-CIO:

  • The rate of workplace deaths is 49% higher in states with right to work laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • States with right to work laws spend 32.5% less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states.
  • Poverty rates are higher in states with right to work laws (15.3% overall and 21.4% for children), compared with poverty rates of 12.8% overall and 18.0% for children in states without these laws.
  • Only 47% of private-sector employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 52.2% in other states. That difference is even more pronounced among employers with fewer than 50 workers: only 30.1% offer health insurance compared with 38.1% of small employers in other states.
  • The infant mortality rate is 12.4% higher in states with right to work laws.

Federal law already prohibits any American from being forced to join a union, meaning So-Called “Right to Work” laws do not grant any rights, only weaken unions and their protection of workers.

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