So-called “right to work” laws – intentionally misnamed by a network of nonunion business interests that have championed their passage – are currently in effect in more than 20 southern and western states. A more accurate name for these measures is “right to work for less,” because in practice, they have lowered wages, reduced benefits, diminished jobsite safety, and do not guarantee any “rights” that are not already offered under federal law. The average worker in a right to work for less state earns roughly $5,333 a year less than a worker in free-bargaining states.1
The true goal of these laws isn’t workers’ rights, but busting the union contract. “Right to work” laws say unions must represent all eligible employees, whether they pay dues or not. Unions are forced to expend time and members’ dues money to provide union benefits to workers that pay nothing and get all the benefits of union membership.
Between 2011 and 2013, BAC members and working families can expect a renewed push by anti-union forces to pass “right to work” laws in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. How do we push back? Stay informed as these campaigns develop. For updates, check this webpage, the online resources listed below, and your state AFL-CIO or building trades websites and sign up to receive email alerts from the International Union.
1 Average Annual Pay, 2001 from Bureau of Labor Statistics, State average annual pay for 2000 and 2001 and percent change in pay for all covered workers.