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Right-to-Work Laws Boost Workers’ Prosperity, Happiness

March 16, 2017

Lawmakers all over the nation are debating enacting legislation allowing workers to opt out of union membership, freeing them from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

Lawmakers all over the nation are debating enacting legislation allowing workers to opt out of union membership, freeing them from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

In February 2016, West Virginia became the 26th state to bring worker freedom to its economy, and Kentucky and Missouri followed suit in following months. With those additions to the ranks of states protecting employees’ rights to voluntary association, 162 million Americans, or about 49.9 percent of the total U.S. population, benefit — directly or indirectly — from right-to-work laws.

Now, an Ohio lawmaker is proposing bringing worker freedom to the Buckeye State. State Rep. John Becker, a Republican, is introducing a similar bill to allow workers to choose whether or not they want to join a union, instead of having the choice made for them.

Contrary to the doom-and-gloom claims made by labor unions and the lawmakers they’ve purchased with their millions of dollars in campaign donations, right-to-work laws are proven to boost workers’ well-being, both economic and emotional.

University of North Carolina economics professor Walter Wessels used economic survey data on workers published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to study the link between right-to-work laws and workers’ outcomes. Wessels found, “Low-wage states are more likely to have a (right-to-work) law, instead of the typical conclusion that (such) laws result in lower wages.”

That wasn’t the only interesting link Wessels uncovered between right-to-work laws and workers’ individual outcomes. According to his research, workers in a state with right-to-work laws on the book are more likely to be happy with their job than workers in forced-unionism states. “Estimates of the … equation show that the effect of (right-to-work) was positive and significant at the 10 percent level,” Wessels wrote.

“One interpretation of this result is that (right-to-work) laws provide a means for dissatisfied union workers to reduce their dissatisfaction by not joining the union representing them. Thus, because (right-to-work) states may have relatively more non-member union workers, they should also have higher levels of satisfaction.”

Right-to-work laws aren’t just good for improving workers’ job satisfaction, though. Other researchers have found links between worker-freedom laws and increased productivity.

In 2016, Ball State University economics professor Michael Hicks studied the effects of right-to-work laws on workers’ productivity and states’ population growth. Using government statistics, Hicks found, “total factor productivity in (non-right-to-work) states was about 57 percent of the level in (right-to-work) states” and “(non-right-to-work) manufacturing productivity was roughly 64 percent of the (right-to-work) states.”

Additionally, Hicks’ analysis found businesses in right-to-work states enjoyed more sales activity per employee than businesses in non-right-to-work states.

But wait, there’s more!

Research by Ohio University economics professor Richard Vedder suggests right-to-work laws can turbocharge states’ economic growth, boosting growth rates by double-digits. In a 2014 study, Vedder modeled the economies of states with and without right-to-work worker protections, finding, “The overall effect of a (right-to-work) law is to increase economic growth rates by 11.5 percentage points. (The effect) is significant at the 99 percent confidence level.”

Vedder determined workers in right-to-work states earn more money than those in forced-unionism states. His study found the median income difference between those living and working in right-to-work states and those in forced-unionism states was $3,278 per person per year, which means a four-person household living in a forced-unionism state is losing out on $13,112 because its lawmakers are resisting the right-to-work revolution.

“It is the difference between sending your children to a low-cost, nearby community college and sending them to live four years at the state’s flagship university or even a private college,” Vedder wrote. “That is the difference between, say, living in a three-bedroom home with one car and taking only one, short, nearby vacation (and) living in a larger four-bedroom home with two cars and taking a longer European vacation or a cruise.”

If lawmakers want their voters to be happier when they’re at work and when they’re at the bank, passing right-to-work laws is a great way to do it.

[Originally Published at InsideSources]

Article Tags
Economy
Author
Jesse Hathaway is a policy advisor for budget and tax issues at The Heartland Institute.
media@heartland.org @JesseinOH

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