Entries in Right to Work (2)


What Do Right-to-Work Laws Mean for Workers and States?

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This week, Michigan became the 24th state in the country to adopt a right-to-work law.  The passage of the bill by the state legislature, and eventual signing by Rick Snyder, the state's Republican governor, brought a huge wave of protests in a state with deep union roots.

Right-to-work laws have garnered a lot of national attention in recent years as more states have implemented this legislation that prohibits unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of their employment.  The laws are meant to regulate agreements between employers and labor unions that would prohibit the employer from hiring non-union workers.

The laws are particularly divisive -- proponents argue that businesses will be more likely to set up shop in the state, while opponents argue that weakening union power will lead to lower wages.  Because each state has a variety of factors that must be considered individually when assessing its overall economic standing, it's difficult to fully assess the validity of each side's argument, since you can't isolate the direct effect of these laws on the state's economy.

However, a study conducted in 2007 by Lonnie Stevans of Hofstra University suggested that both sides of the argument are, to some degree, accurate.

"Findings are that the number of businesses and self-employed are greater on average in right-to-work states, but employment, wages, and per-capita personal income are all lower on average in right-to-work states," Stevans wrote.

But he noted that there was little "trickle down" from the business owners to the workers -- the laws benefitted the business owners who did not have to contend with union contracts, but business employees didn't get those same positive effects -- as evidenced by the lower salaries on average.

An analysis by ABC News of the most recent seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in states with right-to-work laws vs. those without such laws found that, on average, the unemployment rate in states with right-to-work laws was slightly lower than those without.

The average unemployment rate in the 24 states with right-to-work laws was 7 percent, while the average rate in the 26 states plus D.C. that do not have right-to-work laws was just under 7.6 percent -- a difference of just under .6 percent.

The state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, Nebraska at just 3.8 percent unemployment, has such a law in place, as does the state with the highest unemployment rate, Nevada at 11.5 percent.

Support for the laws has often tended to fall along party lines, with Democrats opposing and Republicans supporting.  The vast majority of states with right-to-work laws are Republican led, the majority of states without are led by Democrats.

Below is the list of the 24 states with right-to-work laws:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Idaho
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
  10. Louisiana
  11. Michigan
  12. Mississippi
  13. Nebraska
  14. Nevada
  15. North Carolina
  16. North Dakota
  17. Oklahoma
  18. South Carolina
  19. South Dakota
  20. Tennessee
  21. Texas
  22. Utah
  23. Virginia
  24. Wyoming

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michigan Governor Signs Right to Work Bill into Law

Office of Governor Rick Snyder(LANSING, Mich.) -- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a right-to-work bill limiting union power into law in his state, he announced in a press conference on Tuesday evening.

"I view this as an opportunity to stand up for Michigan's workers—to be pro-worker," Snyder said.

"I don't view this as anti-union at all … I believe this is pro-worker."

Earlier on Tuesday the GOP-controlled state house approved a law that would make the payment of union dues voluntary for private-sector unions and most public-sector unions (police and firefighters would be exempt.) The bill was approved by a vote of 58-51.

In anticipation of the vote, thousands of protesters descended on the statehouse as early as 5am on Tuesday. Later in the day, the demonstrations moved to the Romney building -- which is named after former Michigan Gov. George Romney (father of Mitt) -- where Snyder has an office.

There's symbolism in the location. During his tenure as governor, Romney signed the first bills in the state that gave collective bargaining rights to public-sector employees.

The protests continued on through the day on Tuesday, and by the afternoon riot police surrounded the Romney building in an effort to keep protesters out.

Michigan now becomes the 24th state to pass right-to-work legislation, but the passage of a such a law in union-heavy Michigan is particularly divisive in the state. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers organizatiom and union representation in Michigan is among the highest in the nation; roughly 17.5 percent of the state's labor force is unionized.

Although Snyder has signed the bill into law, it will still be possible to put it on the ballot in 2014, when Snyder is expected to run for re-election. The bill includes appropriations, which means that it will automatically become law if signed, but the state constitution allows for voters to invoke a referendum to "approve or reject" the law.

Opponents of the law will have 90 days after the legislature adjourns to gather eight percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial race, which were more than 3 million.

If they succeed, the law will be placed on the ballot and subject to a statewide vote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio