Right to Work States: Hurting or Helping the Economy?

With public attention being paid to state battles over union power, Right to Work proposals have received plenty of press from nation publications. In the Washington Examiner, Right to Work advocate, Mark Mix, explains that states are turning to Right to Work legislation to jump-start their troubled economies and safeguard worker rights.

The logic of Right to Work laws is ironclad: safeguarding of worker freedom thru no forced unionism. In other words, you don’t have to join a union to get a job. Laws that eliminate the unions grip on workers, studies show, also yield economic benefits. Higher job growth for businesses and more disposable income for workers are some of the things reported.

Right to Work states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas seem to be weathering the recession better than non Right to Work states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. These old Midwestern industrial bastions are hemorrhaging jobs and businesses at a rapid pace. More compelling evidence comes in the form of citizens voting with their feet and re-locating to Right to Work states in droves, looking for those jobs that left before them.

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Let’s compare some statistics to judge the asset or liability to your business. In the 22 Right to Work states, private sector employment grew 3.7% from 1999 to 2009 and shrank 2.8% in the 28 forced-unionism states, including California, New York and Illinois. During those same 10 years, real personal income rose 28.3% in Right to Work states and fell 14.7% in forced-unionism states. In 2009 cost of living adjusted per capita income was $35,543 in Right to Work states versus $33,389 in forced-unionism states, a $2,154 premium.

Businesses benefit from more available, skilled workers moving into their area. Wages paid do not have to comply with union contracts negotiated in another state. Un-motivated or un-willing workers can be let go without arbitration. Work schedules can be adjusted to what your business needs instead of what the unions dictate. None of your company’s assets have to be set aside for union contract negotiation or disciplinary actions, thus allowing for a more profitable bottom line. If your business grows and needs to expand, you can do so without union scrutiny.

I think the argument for business growth leans heavily toward beneficial if you reside in a Right to Work state. What are your thoughts?

Richard Gould – Design Administrator

Gould Design, Inc.