Politicians Pressing Right-to-Work (for Less) Laws

By Richard Thayer

Efforts by Republican governors and state legislators to pass right-to-work laws for their states evidently isn’t good enough for the Republicans in Washington. Earlier this month they introduced the National Right to Work Act, a bill that, if passed, would make it mandatory for all 50 states to have right-to-work laws. At the present time 22 states have these laws. Interestingly, every state in the South, with the exception of Kentucky, is a right-to-work state.

Spin coming from the right says those evil union bosses in the other 28 states have too much influence over those states’ employers and employees, forcing people to join unions against their will. They argue that states without right-to-work laws are generally worse off economically.

Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of having right-to-work laws on the books. I mean if they are as good as some of the politicians say they are, why have 28 states decided against having them? Surely those union bosses don’t have that much pull, do they?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau, states with right-to-work laws, in general, have lower quality of life: they have lower wages, higher poverty, less health care and offer poorer education for their children.

Workers in these right-to-work states earn an average of $5,538 less a year than do workers in states without these laws.

On average, right-to-work states spend $2,671 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than states without the law.

The safety record in right-to-work states are much worse than those without the laws. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace deaths are a mind-blowing 52.9 percent higher in right-to-work states.

Politicians who’re pushing for these right-to-work laws say they will help to improve the economy. But that’s not true. States without right-to-work laws have, on average, higher productivity than right-to-work states. Why? Because there’s less turnover and higher morale. That’s to be expected. When you pay someone a decent wage, give them paid sick leave, health care and pay into their retirement fund, morale is going to be better than in a company that doesn’t provide any of this for its employees.

Politicians also argue that right-to-work states attract more businesses, but that’s not entirely true either. Certainly there are those companies that will be attracted to an area where they don’t have to pay their employees as much as unionized companies do, but there are other factors that come in to play when a company is seeking a location. Among them is the availability of skilled workers, close proximity to markets and materials, the quality of life and good schools.

Advocates for these right-to-work laws would have us believe that those states without such laws forces workers to join unions against their wills. Not true. Those who don’t want to join a union, don’t have to. They don’t have to pay dues. All they’re required to do is pay their fair share of the costs when a union represents them.

So, who benefits from right-to-work laws?

Well, for one, it benefits the politicians who get these laws passed. Big Business interests pay them an “incentive” bonus in the form of campaign financing when they run for election. They pour millions of dollars into their campaigns to insure that these laws and other union-busting measures are passed because ultimately these laws benefit their company’s bottom line: more profits for the fat cats at the top. Less pay and less benefits for their employees means more money and benefits for those at the top.

There’s a reason there are so many millionaires in Congress.

And there’s a reason why these so-called laws have been labeled “right-to-work (for less).”

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