NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Right-to-Work Laws Make Unions More Accountable

November 4, 2014

Almost half (24) of the states have right-to-work laws, which make union dues entirely voluntary. But in the rest of the states, workers are required to pay union dues if a workplace is unionized. James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation explains why right-to-work provisions help employees, improve unions and aid local economies.

Much opposition to paying union dues resides in the concern that unions will use the dues for political activity. While it is possible for a worker, even in a non-right-to-work state, to "opt out" of his dues being used for political purposes, Sherk says that it is a difficult thing to do in practice. Moreover, he explains that mandatory dues make unions less responsive to workers' concerns; because employees are required to pay dues regardless of union activity, unions have little incentive to listen to the concerns of their members. According to Sherk, in non-right-to-work states, unions charge their members higher dues and give their union officers higher salaries than in right-to-work states. When states implement right-to-work legislation and make union dues voluntary, unions become more responsive to their members.

States that implement right-to-work laws also benefit, because companies are more willing to locate their businesses there. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is what allows states to forbid unions from requiring mandatory dues, and Sherk argues that local governments also have that authority. Such power could be an especially important tool in combating unions, as they are often able to block state-level efforts to forbid forced union dues.

Source: James Sherk, "Why Right-to-Work Works," Heritage Foundation, October 31, 2014.


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