If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re likely one of the millions of Americans living in one of 25 Right to Work states, including Oklahoma.
You might not know it from Right to Work opponents’ heated rhetoric, but Right to Work laws aren’t hard to understand. They simply ensure that no employee can be forced to join or pay dues to a union.
Not only does this enshrine workplace choice and protect employee freedom, it also brings a number of economic benefits to your home state.
According to data compiled by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, Right to Work states have enjoyed higher private-sector job growth and larger wage increases over the past decade than their forced-unionism counterparts. Not only that, but after adjusting for states’ differing costs of living, residents in Right to Work states enjoy more disposable income than their non-Right to Work neighbors.
The connection between Right to Work laws and better economic performance shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Business experts consistently rank the presence of Right to Work laws as one of the most important factors companies consider when deciding where to expand or relocate their facilities where they will create new jobs.
Right to Work laws also encourage unions to be more flexible and responsive in the workplace. Where workers can’t be forced to join or pay dues, union officials have to work harder to retain employee support. This encourages union officials to put workers’ interests first, instead of simply looking out for their own privileges or pushing for policies that are out of step with the rank-and-file.
Right to Work laws make plenty of economic sense, but protecting employee freedom has always been their most important feature. No worker should be forced to join or pay money to an organization he or she has no interest in supporting. Right to Work laws do nothing to impede employees from voluntarily joining or paying dues to a union; they simply ensure that no worker can be forced to contribute just to keep a job.
If you’re still unsure where you stand on the Right to Work issue, ask yourself a simple question: Why shouldn’t union officials play by the same rules as any other private organization? A labor union that enjoys genuine employee support will continue to thrive with funding from members’ voluntary contributions. A union that has alienated the rank-and-file or outlived its usefulness will adapt quickly or whither on the vine.
Across the country, churches, civic associations, and thousands of other private organizations thrive on voluntarism. Many unions have followed their example and continue to prosper in Right to Work states across the country. Meanwhile, all Right to Work residents – nonunion and union alike – benefit from more jobs and higher wages.
Workplace choice, employee freedom, and better economic performance are part and parcel of the Right to Work package. So what’s not to like? This Labor Day, citizens of Right to Work states have much more to celebrate than a three-day weekend.
Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.