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Right to Work

Right-to-work laws guarantee that no person applying for a job can be forced, as a condition of gaining employment, to join or pay dues to a labor union. Right-to-work laws have consistently demonstrated a positive effect on jobs and economic growth.

The Issue

West Virginia recently became the 27th right-to-work state, and several other states are now considering becoming the 28th. Right-to-work laws have made inroads in states traditionally considered union strongholds, including Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Opponents of right-to-work laws contend they force wages down, disadvantage unions, and lower people’s standard of living. But research shows states enacting right-to-work have experienced positive economic effects across the board. A study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found, “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states showed a 42.6 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011, while non-right-to-work states showed gains of only 18.8 percent.” The study also found inflation-adjusted gross personal income in right-to-work states increased 86.5 percent between 1990 and 2013, versus 51.3 percent for forced-unionization states.

Our Stance

Using years of economic data and empirical evidence from each state, the 2015 American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual economic competitiveness study, Rich States, Poor States, found right-to-work states outperformed their forced-unionization counterparts, providing their citizens with critical economic opportunities and a path to greater prosperity.