Right to Work Laws Debated

<p>Right-to-work laws don’t bring more jobs to states that pass them – and end up reducing wages, according to new research.

A right-to-work law says even workers covered by union contracts don’t have to pay anything to the union toward the cost of getting and keeping the contract. Supporters of these laws argue that right-to-work states see job growth because a non-union business climate attracts employers. Former U-S Labor Department chief economist Heidi Shierholz is now with the Economic Policy Institute. She says E-P-I’s latest research doesn’t back that claim.

“What we find is that right-to-work will not create jobs, but it will hurt the wages of middle-class workers.”

However, in June, the U-S Supreme Court ruled that public employees can’t be forced to pay union fees. Ohio is among 20 states in the country without state-level right-to-work laws.

Shierholz says it’s complicated to compare right-to-work states with those that don’t have such laws in place – because industries, education levels, costs of living and other factors are different. But taking all those factors into account, she says wages in right-to-work states are still at least three-percent lower. That means an average full-time worker takes home 15-hundred dollars a year less in a right-to-work state. Shierholz says in spite of the rhetoric, that’s what the laws are made to do.

“The proponents of right-to-work really do try to make it sound like it’s going to be good for workers – but it’s not about freedom. It is simply to reduce the wages of workers so that corporate profits can increase.”

Some union members say they shouldn’t even be called right-to-work laws. They say a better name might be “right to work – for less.”