Right to work State
Right to work states refer to the states in the US that support and use right to work laws to safeguard the right of workers on their choice of whether to become a member or monetarily support a union (Peck, 2016). The laws refer to the statutes existing in some states in the U.S, which hinder agreements pertaining to union security; or may as well hinder agreements concerning labor unions and employers. They also control how far an established and fully registered union is able to require membership of employees, the remittance of outstanding union dues, or fees payment as a condition of work, either before or after engaging them. Not only do these laws aim to put in place the general assurance of getting job placements to people looking for the opportunities, but also states’ conditions of the agreements outlined in the contracts between those offering job opportunities, the job seekers, and labor unions. This hinders the employers from eliminating the non-union workers, or workers from making excessively high payments to the unions while they have already negotiated the contract of engagement that all workers follow and by which they are guided.
The current number of right-to-work states is twenty-six, which majorly lie in the states to the west, as well as south (Jacobs & Glass, 2015). In addition, mid-western states including Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan are also included. Right-to-work legislation has been widely influenced by the various business interests as provided for under the federal Taft–Hartley Act of 1947. For those people working for the national, as well as municipal, government, a greater differentiation is often reached in line with the law. Moreover, also included are the persons working in the private sector under governments, which are otherwise union and charged with the responsibility of paying dues belonging to the union.
The 26 right-to-work states legally execute the right-to-work regulations and encompass Alabama (executed 1953); Arizona (executed 1946); Arkansas (implemented 1947); Florida (executed 1944); Georgia (executed 1947); Idaho (executed 1985); Indiana (executed 2012); Iowa (executed 1947); Kansas (implemented 1958); Louisiana (executed 1976); and Michigan (executed 2012). The other right-to-work states include Mississippi (executed 1954); Nebraska (implemented 1946); Nevada (executed 1951); North Carolina (executed 1947); North Dakota (executed 1947); Oklahoma (implemented 2001); South Carolina (executed 1954); South Dakota (implemented 1946); Tennessee (implemented 1947); Texas (executed 1947); Utah (executed 1955); Virginia (implemented 1947); West Virginia (executed 2016); Wisconsin (executed 2015); and Wyoming (implemented 1963). Another present in the list is the territory of Guam, which has right-to-work legislation as well, and the workers of Federal Government of the U.S have the right to decide on whether to become members of the various unions or not (Hicks, LaFaive, & Devaraj, 2016).
History of “Right to Work State”
The National Labor Relations Act, broadly called the Wagner Act, got enforced in the year 1935 as part of “Second New Deal” by the then US President, Roosevelt. The Act provided, among other things, that a company or organization could agree lawfully to become either of the following: Closed shop; whereby workers had to form part of the union membership as a mandatory prerequisite to getting employment opportunity. Under the closed shop, a worker who stopped his union membership for whatsoever cause, either from being not in a position to settle outstanding dues to termination of union membership as a means of disciplinary punishment internally, could be sacked even when the worker never contravened any of his employer’s regulations. Union shop; this permitted for the employment of non-union workers, as long as they thereafter form part of the union within a given duration. Agency shop; whereby workers had to pay for the corresponding dues belonging to the union, with the option of not joining the union membership officially (Fisk & Sachs, 2014). Open shop; where it was not necessary for a worker to be forced to become part of or pay for the corresponding union fees, nor could he/she be dismissed if he/she became a union member.
To oversee the rules, the Act charged the National Labor Relations Board (that existed since 1933), with the great responsibility (Marciukaityte, 2015). Because the majority from the southern region opined that it was not in order for the Whites and Blacks to be from similar unions, the segregationist sentiment (in the 1940s) was in most cases applied in controversies. One of the early initiators of Right to Work analogy by the name Vance Muse (Texas) made use of this kind of reasoning to enhance the growth of legislations, which were going parallel with union formation in Texas back in the 1940s.
The US Congress enforced the Labor Management Relations Act (which is as well the Taft–Hartley Act); this legislation revoked parts of Wagner Act and as well banned the closed shop. Some parts of the Taft-Hartley Act permitted distinctive states (not local governments) to ban the union and agency shops belonging to workers engaged in their authority. Any state legislation which banned such disposition was referred to as right-to-work state (Eren & Ozbeklik, 2016).
Federal Government functions within open shop protocol throughout the nation, although unions represent the majority of its workers. For example, unions under which the expert athletes are members write contracts that comprise of undivided membership stipulations, but the conditions are restricted to anywhere and anytime that is legitimate. This is because the Supreme Court evidently affirms that the use of Right to Work directives is established by the workers’ existing job positions (Eren & Ozbeklik, 2016). Hence, members of professional sports clubs in states that have adopted Right to Work regulations are subject to those legislations, and cannot be obligated to pay any amount of union fees as a requirement for continued employment. 24 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, are yet to adopt the right-to-work regulations.
Arguments Favoring “Right to Work State”
The Welfare of the Minority
The argument referring to the right to work revolves about the rights of a differing minority with regards to a conflicting majoritarian collective bargain (Bruno, Dickson, Zullo, & Manzo, 2015). The existence of a “New Deal” resulted in eliciting many United States Supreme Court challenges, which were difficulties regarding the legislation of National Industry Recovery Act. As part of its court ruling in Carter vs. Carter Coal Co. in 1935, the Court ruled against the compulsory joint negotiation, stating that the effect, in regards to the hours and wages is to favor the dissentient minority to the discretion of the outlined majority. Accepting in these occurrences is not to exercise the selection, but rather to give in to force. In effect, the authority bestowed upon the majority is the ability to control the issues of the few who are not willing. It is a lawful delegation in its most unpleasant form. It is not a delegation to an authoritative entity, but to private individuals. A legislation that tries to grant such kind of authority takes into account unconstitutional and intolerable intervention with private property, as well as personal liberty. Since the right to work regulations safeguard minority rights directly, and that a denial of rights is protected by due diligence clause of the 5th Amendment, it is inconsequential to do far better than consult from the verdicts of the Court that preclude the matter.
Liberty of Association
Other supporters of right-to-work legislation as well refer to the fundamental law and the stipulation of the liberty of association over and above the US Supreme Court (Devinatz, 2015). They propose the school of thought that employees need to feel free to become part of unions or to avoid it altogether. Therefore, at times, they refer to states that are non-right-to-work as states whose unionism is forced to exist. These supporters hold the opinion that because they are being involuntarily forced into a joint bargain, also referred by the majoritarian unions, as a fair share of joint bargaining costs; it is actually what is being regarded as financial enforcement and a contravention of freedom of choice. In this case, unlike in states supporting the right to work regulations, in the other states, the people against the conditions of the unions are coerced to support them financially even if they are not in their support, to acquire monopoly membership they have no control over.
Supporters of this legislation argue that it is unjust that the unions may be in need of new and existing workers either to become part and parcel of the union or pay charges for joint bargaining expenditures as employment condition under contracts for union security agreement. For the sake of fairness, the right-to-work states make it optional for employees to become members of unions (Manzo, 2015).
Arguments in Opposition to the “Right to Work State”
Bruno et al. (2015) were among the people who acknowledged that the term right to work acts as an inappropriate name for the simple explanation that the insufficiency of such legislation never denies the right to work. Quite notably, right to work enables employees to reap from the joint bargaining without having to pay for it. Manzo (2015) also affirmed that in attempt to enact the right to work legislation in Michigan, omission of unions pertaining to firefighter and police (ordinarily known to be favorable to Republicans) from the legislation, made some to raise queries over whether the legislation was basically an attempt to make Michigan’s business climate much better. As a result, this generates a free rider complication among workers who never belong to any union, but at the same time consider the contract of the union to be highly valuable. Therefore, union membership could finally subsidize members who do not belong to them.
Hindered Contract and Association
Antagonists propose that the right to work laws hinder freedom of association (Manzo, 2015). They also say that the laws restrict the kind of agreements that people who act jointly can resort to with those who employ them, by preventing the employers and workers from consenting to engagement contracts that include the justifiable share levies. By the fact that the law of America enforces an obligation of justifiable depiction on unions, non-members in states exercising the right to work are capable of pushing unions to avail without any remuneration grievance services, which are settled by members of the union. From this, it can confidently be stated that the legislations inflict an active and synthetic burden on the labor unions, a fact that makes it not neutral by all standards. In the right to work’s initial development, segregationist sentiment was utilized as an opinion, since most people from the southern region believed that it was not right for Whites and Blacks to come from the same unions.
Critics have argued that even though the National Right to Work committee pretends to take part in the buttonholing on the well-being of the weak, it was instigated by a team of southern businesspersons with the intention of battling unions, but there was the incorporation of a number of employees for the sake of public goodwill. Furthermore, the unions argue that most organizations have acquired a lot of money illegally in form of grants from American controlled foundations at the cost of the employees’ benefits (Hogler, 2011).
Summary Analysis of the Results of All the Debates on Right to Work
According to Manzo (2015), research on the influence of the right to work regulations “abound”, but is not “consistent”. It is hard to scrutinize right to work legislations simply by comparing the states because of other resemblance among them, which already enacted the laws. Taking into consideration the development of the southern states after the Second World War, studies assert that while there is the application of right to work regulations, they ass well reap gains from aspects like the extensive utilization of air conditioning and dissimilar forms of transportation that assisted decentralize manufacturing.
After comparing states having and lacking right to work, economists have found that the employment growth rate in the states that support the regulations is twenty-six percent higher when judged against the states that do not back them. However, it has been pointed out that what matters is the ‘pro-business package’ offered by the right to work states (Hogler, 2011). If the mean wage of $22.11 in states that do not support right to work regulations was to be used as the base, a full-time and full-year employee in a right to work state averagely makes approximately $1,500 less in a year than his counterpart in a non-right to work state. Studies go on to state that the extent of this dissimilarity could be attributed to right to work condition? A fundamental “endogeneity” challenge lies in the endeavors to respond to the question of whether the states that implement the right to work regulations and the ones that do not vary on a broad scope of evaluations related to compensation; this makes it hard to set apart the influence of right to work regulations.
In accordance with the Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance (ESI), there is about 2% lower level of medical coverage in right to work states when judged against the states that do no adopt such regulations, when considering people, their employment, and state-based attributes (Hogler, 2011). Using the entire capacity of management variables in regression model, the proportion of employer-sponsored pensions stands at about 5 lesser in the states that execute the right to work regulations. In case employees from states which are non-right to work were to get their pensions at such a smaller rate, then workers who would have their pensions would drop by 3.8 million.
In a study comparing employment progression in Texas and Ohio, it was reported that, 10,400 jobs were lost in Ohio, whereas a hooping 1,615,000 job opportunities were gained. According to Devinatz (2015), it was implied that right to work regulations could be amid the explanations for the economic developments, in conjunction with North American Free Trade Agreement, and excluding the income taxations in Texas. Other studies report 70% employment intensification in right to work states and 30% advancement in the states that do not use the right to work regulations at around the same time.
The researchers in favor of the right to work regulations are convinced that the right to work acts as an essential indebtedness in the constitution (Devinatz, 2015). The right to work regulations offer people the right to decide to interrelate or not with any form of union after they evaluate it, and employees could decide whether to be represented by a given union or not. On this note, workers are free to choose where their money goes, the people that make a reduction in their hard earned wages, and the anticipations of the mandatory taxations. Devoid of the right to work regulations, the employees are easily compelled to become members of unions or undergo hefty deductions to the unions. This violation of the rights of the workers has been put under control by the right to work laws.
With the emergence of the right to work states, unions are no longer overly authoritative (Devinatz, 2015). The unions are operating according set business models and the objectives of the decent organizations are evident, to make proceeds. The evaluation of the right to work states, demonstrate that unions are giving their services in return for a considerable fee, and workers are obtaining the necessary services as they have the unions to address the negotiations that they have with their employers. In a case where workers are satisfied with the services given by the unions and the value they get from being members, they will retain their membership. Nevertheless, in a situation that the unions are found to have misappropriated the fees paid by their members, and offer services disagreeable to the customers, the employees have the authority to withdraw their membership.
The regulations in right to work states have been found to result in greater competitiveness with regard to the salaries and biding by the employees. Studies have established that the state of Minnesota could have been amid the best ten states in terms of highest revenue per capita if it were a right to work state. However, the state took position 14, which is highly attributed to its failure to adopt the right to work laws (Devinatz, 2015). The difference of being amid the best 10 and taking position 14 may appear small, but there is an incomparable dissimilarity in the quality of life for all entailed.
On the contrary, the arguments against the right to work states affirm that the states that have not adopted such laws have employees earning very high salaries when judged against their counterparts in the right to work states. The high salaries in the states that do not implement the right to work regulations have a great benefit to both the workers and their employers (Devinatz, 2015). The benefits to the workers are that they permit them to strategize their life events with self-assurance. Furthermore, high salaries enable the employees to have a better standard of living. For the employers, offering high salaries could benefit them by having high performing employees and workers that are dedicated for feeling satisfied in their places of work, which generates loyalty and a generally better work setting. All these are benefits not found in the right to work states. Moreover, the regulations in the right to work states permit employers to recruit nonunion employees, which signify that most of the bargains made by the unions are not respected as the employers seek nonunion employees ready to take low salaries and benefits.
The laws in the right to work states enable the employers to employ workers devoid of agreements that could underscore the protection of the rights of the employees. Such an occurrence of “at will” recruitment practices offer employers the capacity to end their relationship with the workers under non-justifiable grounds. The termination of the relationships between the workers and their employers in the right to work states could arise from numerous trivial aspects that encompass the employer disliking the manner in which a worker sneezes and other unjust reasons. On this note, the workers in the right to work states are unprotected against injustices by the employers and cannot benefit from job stability and security as employees in non-right to work states (Eren & Ozbeklik, 2016). In the non-right to work states, the unions undertake strong negotiations with the employers and reach agreements that ensure the protection of workers through obliging employers to seek appropriate means of retaining the relations with employees.
The states that have not adopted the right to work laws strengthen the unions to be able to compel employers to improve the conditions and salaries of the workers and defend them against much probable future occurrences. The unions also better the work-associated conditions, for instance, wages, and work environments to mention a few (Hogler, 2011). In the right to work states, employers are under no obligation to consult unions in their recruitment and remuneration processes, which make unions lose the authority to protect workers and better their conditions. In this regard, employers exploit their powers and give the workers poor conditions because they just require minimal legal obligations and unions have no authority to negotiate for conditions above the set minimum. The situation in the right to work states could result in deadly outcomes as the states could eventually have exceedingly high employment-associated fatalities emanating from poor conditions.
After a thorough scrutiny of advantages and disadvantages in right to work states, there could be concluding sentiments that right to work enactment is averagely beneficial to a state. It should be incorporated and encouraged since the benefits that come with it to the members of the state outwit the costs. Most importantly, the legislations in right to work states create employment opportunities and foster mainstream economic activity. The demerits of the right to work regulations ought to be reviewed to ensure that the rights of the employees are protected, their conditions improved, and the unions should be given more powers to fight for better work and living conditions of workers.
Bruno, R., Dickson, A., Zullo, R., & Manzo, F. (2015). The economic effects of adopting a Right-to-Work Law. Labor Studies Journal, 40(4), 319-361.
Devinatz, V. G. (2015). Right-to-Work Laws, the Southernization of US labor relations and the US trade union movement’s decline. Labor Studies Journal, 40(4), 297-318.
Eren, O., & Ozbeklik, S. (2016). What do Right‐to‐Work Laws do? Evidence from a synthetic control method analysis. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 35(1), 173-194.
Fisk, C., & Sachs, B. I. (2014). Restoring equity in Right to Work. UC Irvine Law Review, 4(2), 859.
Hicks, M. J., LaFaive, M., & Devaraj, S. (2016). New evidence on the effect of Right-to-Work Laws on productivity and population growth. Cato Journal, 36(1), 101-120.
Hogler, R. (2011). How right to work is destroying the American Labor Movement: From the Ku Klux Klan to the Tea Party. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 23(4), 295-304.
Jacobs, P., & Glass, C. (2015). Culture, context, or conflict? Analyzing union attitudes in six rural counties in conservative Right‐to‐Work States. Rural Sociology, 80(4), 512-536.
Manzo, F. (2015). Promises unfulfilled. Labor Studies Journal, 40(4), 379-395.
Marciukaityte, D. (2015). Right‐to‐Work Laws and financial leverage. Financial Management, 44(1), 147-175.
Peck, J. (2016). The right to work, and the right at work. Economic Geography, 92(1), 4-30.