Workers deserve right to work
Last updated 9/13/2023 at 2:32pm
As you shop for back-to-school supplies for your kids, consider this: The clerks, shelf stockers, truck drivers and factory workers who make that possible can all be legally forced to pay money to a union or else be fired.
You see, Washington is currently one of the 23 forced-unionism states in America.
Why? Since Washington doesn't have a right-to-work law to guarantee union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary for workers, a union boss can legally have a worker fired for not paying union dues or fees.
If you think that sounds wrong and unjust, you're hardly alone.
Poll after poll reveals that more than 80% of Americans agree that it's wrong to subject workers to this kind of union compulsion.
Even union members, who have seen unions close up, similarly believe union affiliation and financial support should be voluntary, with about 80% agreeing workers "should never be forced or coerced to join or pay dues as a condition of employment."
Fortunately, all public employees have enjoyed First Amendment protection against being compelled to make union payments since the 2018 landmark U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision, argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. However, private sector workforces in forced-unionism states like Washington can still be forced to give money to unions to keep their jobs.
Currently, 27 states in America have right-to-work laws in effect. These states have passed and implemented laws to repeal Big Labor's special power to force workers to pay union bosses fees as a condition of employment. Workers in these states experience workplace freedom.
The lack of forced unionism against workers gives right-to-work states an economic advantage, as well. Workers in forced-unionism states are fleeing to pursue opportunities not afforded in their home states.
A National Institute for Labor Relations Research report, drawing on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the number of individuals employed from 2012-22 grew nearly twice as fast in right-to-work states than in forced-unionism states: 15.7% in right-to-work states versus only 8.6% in states that allow workers to be fired for not paying union bosses.
The analysis also found that, after adjusting for the cost of living, the mean after-tax household income in right-to-wrk states was roughly $4,300 higher than households in forced-unionism states in 2019, the most recent year for which household income data is available.
For another example of the job-creating power of right-to-work states, take a look at how they have fared since COVID mandates devastated the economy. As of June, total employment in states without right-to-work laws still hasn't recovered to pre-COVID February 2020 levels. Meanwhile, right-to-work states have added over 3 million jobs.
Right-to-work laws simply codify one commonsense principle: Every worker should have the choice to join a labor union, but no worker should be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.
Right-to-work laws do not outlaw labor unions, nor do they prevent any worker from joining a labor union if they voluntarily choose. A worker in a right-to-work state can give as much money as they choose to a union in dues, but such payments can't be extracted just because of a "pay up or be fired" threat.
Since Labor Day just passed, take a moment to reflect on the benefits that the right to work brings to workers across the nation, and the difference it could make for Washington. Having a right to work means more individual freedom and economic opportunity for you and your family. It's working in right-to-work states across the country.
Help make Washington a right-to-work state. Demand your elected officials embrace the economic opportunity and worker freedom that having the right to work would bring.
- Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee and National Right to Work Foundation