observers were surprised when Michigan, historically a stronghold of union
power, became the nation's 24th "Right to Work" state. The backlash
from November's unsuccessful attempt to pass a referendum forbidding the
state from adopting a right to work law was a major factor in Michigan's
rejection of compulsory unionism. The need for drastic action to improve
Michigan's economy, which is suffering from years of big government policies,
also influenced many Michigan legislators to support right to work.
Let us be
clear: right to work laws simply prohibit coercion. They prevent states from
forcing employers to operate as closed union shops, and thus they prevent
unions from forcing individuals to join. In many cases right to work laws are
the only remedy to federal laws which empower union
bosses to impose union dues as a condition of employment.
Right to work
laws do not prevent unions from bargaining collectively with employers, and
they do not prevent individuals from forming or joining unions if they
believe it will benefit them. Despite all the hype, right to work laws merely
enforce the fundamental right to control one's own labor.
right to work laws enjoy greater economic growth and a higher standard of
living than states without such laws. According to the National Institute for
Labor Relations Research, from 2001-2011 employment in right to work states
grew by 2.4%, while employment in union states fell by 3.4%! During the same
period wages rose by 12.5% in right to work states, while rising by a mere
3.1% in union states. Clearly, "Right to Work" is good for business
best served when union leaders have to earn their membership and dues by
demonstrating the benefits they provide. Instead, unions use government
influence and political patronage. The result is bad laws that force workers
to subsidize unions and well-paid union bosses.
government should not regulate internal union affairs, or interfere in labor
disputes for the benefit of employers. Government should never forbid
private-sector workers from striking. Employees should be free to join unions
or not, and employers should be able to bargain with unions or not. Labor,
like all goods and services, is best allocated by market forces rather than
the heavy, restrictive hand of government. Voluntarism works.
forcing employees to pay union dues as a condition of getting or keeping a
job are blatantly unconstitutional. Furthermore, Congress does not have the
moral authority to grant a private third party the right to interfere in
private employment arrangements. No wonder polls report that 80 percent of
the American people believe compulsory union laws need to be changed.
little secret is that real wages cannot rise unless productivity rises.
American workers cannot improve their standard of living simply by bullying
employers with union tactics. Instead, employers, employees, and unions must
recognize that only market mechanisms can signal employment needs and wage
levels in any industry. Profits or losses from capital investment are not
illusions that can be overcome by laws or regulations; they are real-world
signals that directly affect wages and employment opportunities. Union
advocates can choose to ignore reality, but they cannot overcome the basic
laws of economics.
the principle of liberty will provide the most prosperous society possible.
Right to work laws are a positive step toward economic liberty.