Right-To-Work: Coming To A Place Near You

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/12/27/the-union-label-shouldnt-be-a-brand/

Twenty-six states now have right-to-work laws. Election results last month in Kentucky, where a Republican House was elected for the first time in more than a century, and in Missouri, where a Republican governor won, all but guarantee that right-to-work laws will be enacted in those states. And now, in true blue New England, with the election of Republican Chris Sununu as Governor of New Hampshire, a right-to-work law may be enacted in 2017 in the Granite State.

This is a big deal.

Right-to-work laws prohibit unions and employers from requiring union membership or payment of union dues as a condition of employment. When a state passes such a law, there are generally major economic and political ramifications.

Right-to-work states usually see faster economic growth, more job creation, and higher worker earnings. Manufacturing and distribution companies are more frequently willing to move their plants to right-to-work states, while shunning states where right-to-work laws are not in force.

Union membership is no longer seen as positive in most communities, as the decades-long downward trend of union membership in the non-public sector demonstrates. Only 6.7 percent of employees in U.S. private sector companies are members of unions, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor 2015 statistics. Including public sector employees, 11.1 percent of the U.S. workforce were members of unions – down from 35 percent in the mid-1950s.

There are also huge political ramifications. Right-to-work laws have the effect of defunding the political war chests of the unions because the unions have less in dues money. This, in turn, moderates the political clout of unions, which diminishes the power of Democratic party machines in blue states.

Good examples are Wisconsin and Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan was only 10,700 votes, and it is hard to believe that he would have triumphed without the passage of a right-to-work law in 2015. The margin of victory in Wisconsin, which had not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1984, was only 22,000. It is easy to understand why the unions in Wisconsin and then nationally fought so hard to defeat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on three occasions.

More important than party politics, though, is freedom. If workers want to join a union, they should be free to do so. But if they don’t want to join a union, they should be free not to. That’s what a right-to-work law does: It restores freedom.

Imagine you work in an industry where the employer and a union have agreed (perhaps with government prodding) that in order to have a job you have to belong to the union. And then imagine the union forces you to pay dues, and that the union spends a large portion of the dues money on political candidates and ideas you can’t stand.  It isn’t right.

Both the New Hampshire House and Senate are firmly in GOP hands. If GOP leaders can deliver the vote, Governor Sununu should be pleased to sign a right-to-work law, which would accelerate economic growth, bring more jobs to the Granite State, help enhance his position politically, and increase freedom.

Some other states in New England might even follow New Hampshire’s example.