Explaining Right-to-Work Laws

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…”

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