Right to Work and a Test for Republicans

NILRR shows how Right to Work can improve a state’s good economy.   Kristina Roegner has the story in the Wall Street Journal.

Here in the Buckeye State, we’ve made major economic strides over the past two and a half years. Facing an $8 billion budget deficit in 2011 and unemployment over 9%, Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature have since balanced the state budget without raising taxes, instituted common-sense regulatory reform, and even eliminated Ohio’s estate tax.

As a result, state-wide unemployment is down to around 7% —and companies across the country are taking notice. According to Chief Executive Magazine’s 2013 ranking of “Best and Worst States for Business,” Ohio has improved more than any other state over the past year, jumping 13 places to 22nd in the nation from 35th in 2012.

Still, a ranking of 22nd out of 50 states leaves plenty of room for improvement and begs the question: What do the top 10 states for business—Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona, Virginia, South Carolina, Nevada and Georgia—have in common? All are right-to-work states. Ohio is not.

Right-to-work laws, also known as workplace-freedom laws, make union membership a worker’s choice rather than a mandatory condition of employment. Twenty four states—most recently, Ohio’s neighbors Indiana and Michigan—have already enacted right-to-work laws. These 24 states have a significant competitive advantage when it comes to attracting jobs.

According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, a nonprofit that analyzes the effects of mandatory unionism, private nonfarm employment in right-to-work states grew 12.5% between 2001 and 2011, compared with an anemic 3.5% in states with forced unionism. Those opposed to right-to-work laws claim that wages in states that have such laws are lower. But according to NILRR studies, the cost-of-living adjusted per capita disposable income was more than 7% higher in right-to-work states than in forced-unionism states in 2011.

Beyond the economic benefits, at the heart of this debate is the principle of freedom of choice. All working Americans should have the right to choose whether union membership is right for them. Ohioans agree. In poll after poll, Ohioans have supported worker freedom through right-to-work. Most recently, a March 31 Columbus Dispatch poll found that 65% of Ohioans surveyed favor an amendment to the state constitution to make Ohio a right-to-work state.