Forced Dues-State Households Have Less to Spend

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A new National Institute for Labor Relations Research analysis of U.S. Census Bureau (BOC) data shows that the average cost of living-adjusted, after-tax income per household in Right to Work states last year was $64,572, roughly $4,300 higher than the forced-unionism state average.

In addition to the BOC, the Institute’s sources for its analysis are the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), a state government agency, and the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C. -based Tax Foundation.

For many years now, employees considering relocation to another state and companies seeking to hire capable employees from out of state have consulted interstate cost-of-living indices calculated and published by MERIC.

MERIC’s annual data for 2019 show that, among the 14 states with the highest overall cost of living last year, not one has on the books a Right to Work law barring the termination of employees for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to an unwanted union. However, 13 of the 15 lowest cost-of-living states protect employees’ Right to Work.

Along with housing, food and utility costs, overall tax burdens are substantially lower in Right to Work states than they are in forced-unionism states. In 2019, according to estimates furnished by the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, residents of forced-dues states forked over 30.6% of their total personal income in federal, state and local taxes, a 13% higher share than the Right to Work average.

No one should be surprised by the Institute’s finding: Households that are in forced-dues states typically have thousands of dollars less to spend per year than households in Right to Work states.

The forced-union-dues system foments hate-the-boss class warfare in many workplaces. And union bosses funnel a large share of the forced dues and fees they collect through this system into the campaigns of Tax & Spend, regulation-happy politicians. It is only logical that, in states where forced union dues and fees are still permitted, workers and other residents would end up with less purchasing power.

Cost of living-adjusted, after-tax federal data confirm that’s exactly what happens. But many commonly cited statistics regarding incomes in Right to Work and forced-unionism states ignore regional cost-of-living differences completely.

For example, even though the Census Bureau has annually calculated and published data measuring poverty in the 50 states with adjustments for regional differences in housing costs since 2011, Big Labor and its allies never reference these data, which show poverty in Right to Work states is lower than in forced-unionism states.

Instead, forced-unionism apologists simply ignore the relevant data and claim, in essence, we would be better off if union officials could force everyone to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job. Ordinary Americans who know in their hearts that compulsion of employees is morally wrong should never allow themselves to be taken in by such special pleading.