Legislative & Political

National Right-to-Work (Free Rider) Act is Wrong For Working Families

Journal: Issue 2 - 2017


The National Right-to-Work (Free Rider) Act, H.R. 785, was introduced in the Congress by U.S. Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) on February 1st. The bill would allow free riders across the country to get all the benefits of being a union member without paying their fair share of the costs of representation.

Under federal labor law, unions have the duty to fairly represent all workers covered by a contract. However, no one can be forced to join a union or to pay fees not directly related to the cost of representing them. Unions engage in collective bargaining to improve the wages and benefits, and help set up grievance procedures to address issues that arise in the workplace. Unions also provide training and other services to its members. The national Right-to-Work Act is a harmful legislation and is wrong for working families:

  • According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 49% higher in Right-to-Work states.
  • On average, workers in states with Right-to-Work laws earn $6,109 (12.1%) a year less than workers in other states ($44,401, compared with $50,511).
  • Working people in Right-To-Work states have less access to insurance. Approximately 79% of union workers have job-provided health insurance, compared with 49% of non-union workers. And 75% of union workers participate in guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans, compared with just 15% of non-union workers.
  • Poverty rates are higher in states with Right-to-Work laws, (15.3% overall and 21.4% for children), compared with poverty rates of 12.8% overall and 18% for children in states without Right-to-Work laws.

Working people and the middle class drive our economy, but too many still struggle. So-called Right-to-Work laws harm working and middle class families. Workers deserve real rights and real freedom and a voice on the job. Right to work takes away those freedoms.
The National Right-to-Work Act would only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. It tilts the balance even more toward big corporations and further rigs the system at the expense of working families.  

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