So-called Right to Work laws (more familiar as “right to work for less” laws to those in the labor movement) are state laws which make it illegal for workers to negotiate labor agreements requiring all employees who enjoy the benefit of collective bargaining to pay their fair share of the costs associated with negotiating, administering and policing the collective bargaining agreement.
Ordinarily, the States are not permitted to legislate in the labor-management arena insofar as collective bargaining in the private employment sector is concerned. However, in 1946, facing a huge organizing drive by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Southern states successfully lobbied Congress to allow States to outlaw union security clauses.
As a result, we now have a patchwork of laws across the country where some unions are obliged to represent workers notwithstanding those workers are not obligated to contribute anything towards the cost of their representation, and other states where contractual agreements exist obligating all workers to pay their fair share.
What right to work laws do is make unions ineffective. States with such laws diminish the power of unions to obtain better wages and terms and conditions of employment for their members.
Of course, employers, and some State governments, say different. According to their spin, right to work laws contribute to economic growth, that such laws encourage employers to do business in those States.
Simply put, and to put it nicely, those arguments are not true.
Most recently, the Economic Policy Institute, has made clear the lie behind right to work laws. In the Institute’s recent report Does ˜right-to-work’ create jobs? Answers from Oklahoma, it is made clear that such laws have nothing to do with job creation, and at least in the case of Oklahoma, unemployment has risen and manufacturing jobs have declined since Oklahoma encated its right to work for less law in 2001.
In Indiana, a state that is in the midst of the nation-wide attack on public employees, employers are lobbying heavily for the enactment of right to work laws. Those very same employers and their allies are also clamoring about how much business would be attracted to Indiana if only a right to work is enacted.
The Economic Policy Institute has debunked those arguments. As in the previous report I noted above, these laws do not increase employment. Instead, right to work laws only ensure that employees will work for less.
And that is the lie behind right to work laws. They only ensure that employees will work for less.