NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Right-to-Work States Outperform Forced-Union States

February 7, 2011

Right-to-work laws allow workers to opt-out of union membership.  Contrary to much union rhetoric, these laws don't ban or bust unions.  They simply grant individual workers the right to join or not to join, even once a workplace is organized by a union.  Workers who decline to join the union can't be forced to have dues taken out of their paycheck and thus used to finance union political campaigns, says the Wall Street Journal.

Right-to-work states outperform forced-union states in almost every measurable category of worker well-being, says the Journal.

  • A study in the Cato Journal by economist Richard Vedder finds that from 2000 to 2008 some 4.7 million Americans moved from forced-union to right-to-work states.
  • The study also found that from 1977 through 2007 there was "a very strong and highly statistically significant relationship between right-to-work laws and economic growth."
  • Right-to-work states experienced a 23 percent faster rise in per capita income over that period.
  • The two regions that have lost the most jobs in recent years, the once-industrial Northeast and Midwest, are mostly forced-union states.

Right-to-work laws make states more economically competitive, but the bigger issue is about individual rights.  Workers should have the right to join a union but also the right not to.

Source: "Giving Workers a Union Choice," Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2010.

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