Explaining Right-to-Work Laws

There is an excellent summary of the definition of “right-to-work” vs. forced unionism, posted today, on the website Labor Union Report entitled “Fighting to Free Workers’ Paychecks from Union Bosses: Advancing the Right to Work.” Here they are:

“A “Right-to-Work” state that forbids workers from being fired for non-payment of union dues or fees.”

“A “Non-Right-to-Work” (or forced unionism) state, which allows unions to negotiate contracts with companies that require union dues and/or fees to be paid. If a worker refuses to pay union dues or fees (often referred to as agency fees), or falls behind, the union can demand that the worker be fired from the company. The company, by contract, must comply and fire the worker.”

When considering various approaches to reforming unions in the United States it is important to understand exactly what right-to-work means. Because right-to-work does NOT take away the right of unions to organize employees. It simply means that employees who don’t want to belong to a union don’t have to. It forces a union to be more accountable to their members. And it preserves the ability of people who don’t want to join unions from being excluded from job opportunities in unionized workplaces.

The article is worth reading in its entirety – a map is presented showing the 22 “right-to-work” states as well as the 28 “non-right-to-work” states. The non-right-to-work states include virtually the entire mid-west and northeastern U.S., as well as the west coast, plus Montana, Colorado and New Mexico. Data is presented showing the rate of job growth in right-to-work vs. non-right-to-work states.

The article closes with a quote from Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federal of Labor, who was a firm believer of freedom over compulsion:

“I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty – the principles of voluntarism.  No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which, united, is invincible. . . . I want to say to you, men and women of the American labor movement, do not reject the cornerstone upon which labor’s structure has been built – but base your all upon voluntary principles…”

15 replies
  1. Chris Striebeck says:

    I think most people understand that good leadership relies on persuasion versus force. I suspect Gompers understood that people have the right to assemble in the form of unions as they would other types of entities, but that neither can compel individuals to join by force. Everyone, every entitity must sell his/its services in the free and voluntary market.

  2. vince vinson says:

    what do american workers think will happen to their wages and benefits when the unions are gone.anybody with a brain would know, unions even though they have faults are the only reason companies stay competetive and right to work will wipe them out. people want wages and benefits union men and women fight for and our parents and grandparents shed blood for. but bitch about paying dues. you people make me sick.

  3. Kevin King says:

    I agree with vince. unions are the reason we have competetive wages,benifits and safe working conditions. I would like to know. does the right to work laws apply to someone in a non union company who wants to be represented by a union. There are people where I worked who wanted to form a union. Seem like it should go both ways.

  4. larry harris says:

    Unions are extortionist mobsters who are killing American business. Gutless wonders who can’t make a living on their own. Why states are dying: Union employees. Why manufacturers are moving overseas: Union shops. Why projects have triple-price cost overruns: Union labor.

  5. LeRoy Rozell says:

    I agree. Unions do what the Laws will not do for workers. Workers do get back part of that premium at retirement. I have worked for both Union and NonUnion and believe Union benefits out weigh Non Union for many reasons. Those reasons are why Unions were born to begin with.

  6. Mark Turek says:

    Do you really think it’s OK for some of the unions to commit fraud with how they put 100% political expenses under non-political accounting codes in an effort to inflate the Agency Fee rate for non-members?

  7. Jeff Martens says:

    What unions and union members never seem to realize is that the products and services from this country must compete in the rest of the world. Inflating prices excessively for our products doesn’t help to sell our goods.

  8. andrea says:

    the government shouldn’t have allowed our manufacturing jobs to ship overseas and stop paying into the tax system.. The cost to build the widget went way down and the price of the widget went up…. how does that stick in your crawl.. apparently it doesn’t.. but it should.. because our middle class went to shit.. The class A investors are getting that money and the top executives but not the worker bees.. It is not sustainable.. if the worker bees can’t afford the widget the worker bee has to go into massive debt to obtain what it builds.. REALLY that is insane!!! We the people don’t even stand up for ourselves and it shows.. We have incomes that can not cover even simple ways of life.. families are in so much debt and banks own everything we have..

  9. Earl Goodman says:

    very true! Unnecessary dinosaurs from the past that were once useful in helping out with sweat shops and child labor, but those days are gone.

  10. E Presley says:

    Please look at the other side of commerce. (Majority of) Americans used to take pride in supporting each other by buying quality US made products. Now seems like the majority of people only think of themselves and want cheap! cheap! cheap! regardless of where it’s made and do not care what country the product supports. China has captured the greed markets by the Communist Govt keeping their cost of products low. Which countries to you support?? Evaluate yourselves.

  11. Michael Striker says:

    I just read up on this and I think “open shop” and “no free riders” would be fair for everyone. If a person wants a union-backed contract, the person has to be union. (Union fees are the price of union membership – duh.) If a person instead negotiates a comparable non-union contract, whoopee. (“Very persuasive, that one.”)

    (If I ever have employees, I intend to be “open shop” and “no free rider”. I’m not saying I’ll be “no protection for non-union”; hell no! Healthy employees are happier employees. But getting the contract w/o the fees is like getting to eat out for free. TANSTAAFL, some one pays in the end.)

  12. Tom says:

    So Earl, when the working conditions and wages and benefits start to deteriorate at your non union shop and you decide to speak up about it, what do you think will happen to you? I can tell you: YOU’RE FIRED! That’s what.

  13. Nellie McConnell says:

    My husband worked Union for 25 years, forced into retirement at age 56
    UNION wouldn’t help him. His day job was given to a German refugee. After he died, I was not given his retirement. 50.00 a month. Why? I was also taken off medical I was supposed to receive for rest of my life. The Medical was negotiable! It was paid as retirement at 94.00 a month. We were married about 20 years. Union did nothing.
    My son in law retired, worked Union for years. He has 33% of his Union pension taken out for 10% federal, 5% State, 5% County. That’s CA making money off retired Citizens. They have to support the illegals and non-vetted refugees.
    No on Unions! They don’t protect the Workers.

  14. E. Thomas says:

    Since 1842 corporations have been complaining about working families fighting for a livable wage. We have seen what happens when there are no checks and balances on the 1% , hell we lived through it not so long ago. Have people forgot what it took to “Make American Great”? People fighting and yes even dying to even have a shot at the so-called American Dream. Most folks will never come close to it but they can still dream if given an equal opportunity, which can never happen if those that are already there keep moving the goal post. People stop believing in slogans designed to harm you, do your homework and start asking the right questions “what’s wrong with working class families asking (no demanding) a living wage, retirement, health benefits. Pension and health benefits like the ones congress has, why not we pay for it. It’s not fair nor is it ok for my co-workers to get the same thing I get as a dues paying member of a union; it’s Iike going to dinner, everyone eats, the check comes and the person on your left tells everyone “Well I’m full thank you but the rest of you can pay see you back at work.”

  15. Winston says:

    this article is so full of it… In every State where they have implemented “so called Right to Work” laws workers have gained the right to work for less. Information is so easy to get now people need to stop listening to false slogans. MLK warned about the false slogan “Right to Work” in the 60’s – here we go again. If you’re in a “union” and don’t like the direction your union is going in elected new leaders. Stop sitting around blaming everyone else for your lot in life.

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