The right to work laws, as provided by the Taftharthartley Act, protects employees from compulsory unionism. The American workers under the legislation have a right of association both financially or membership. The Right to Work law is currently used in twenty states. It is essential to analyze how the law works, for instance the channels of justice used in implementing the formulated regulations. Analyzing whether the law is for or against unionism helps to clear the prevailing misconceptions. The effect of the Right to Work legislation can be helpful in determining its essence in the member states.
The proponents and opponents of the Right to Work laws have contrasting views of the regulations. The supporters, for example, argue that Right to Work laws are beneficial to the economic growth and protection of employee rights. On the contrary, critics view these regulations as tools for labor union destruction. This paper defines the Right to Work laws and establishes how they work. Additionally, the paper focuses on the contrasting opinions of the advocates and critics of the Right to Work laws, by exploring some of the findings of previous studies. The essay also highlights the effects of the Right to Work laws on unions and employee wages.
Keywords: Right to Work laws, proponents, opponents, employees, wages, unions
A right to work law is a United States statute that allows individuals to have a free will regarding joining of unions. It secures workers’ freedom to join or support various unions, and the security agreements found in the unions. The right to work law protects employees against agreements formulated between various labor unions and employers, which control the level within which a particular union requires workers’ membership, the amount of fees as an employment condition before or after recruiting, or monetary contribution to the union’s operations. The right to work law comprises of the government contracts and regulations that govern the employers and labor unions from excluding workers who are non-union members. The regulations protect employees from paying fees to unions as a requirement for hiring or for maintaining the job opportunity.
Twenty-four states in America use the provisions within the right to work law through by law and by the constitution. The law is mostly applicable in the southern and western parts, but recently, the Midwestern states have embraced the application of the right to work law. There exists a distinction within the law regarding employees working for the state, the private sector workers, and those working for municipal governments (Vedder, 2002). Is the Right to Work law anti-union? The provisions within the law dictate that the Right to Work is neither for unionism nor against union membership (Leef, 2005). The main goal of the law is to protect the individual freedom. The foundation of the law affirms the right of all American citizens to make choices and be free of the compulsory unionism expectations.
How does on Right to Work law work? The foundation seeks to use courts to assist workers whose freedom and civil rights have been violated through the compulsory membership of unions. Do cases of compulsory unionism affect the government policy? The compulsory unionism contributes to the Tax-and-Spend policies found in the United States congress. Union members collect the lump sum amount of money, most of which is unreported. What is the impact of Right to Work law on the member states? Recent independent studies have indicated that states using this law have a higher level of living standards than those who do not value the law (Hunter, 2002). This is because families within the Right to Work States acquire a higher after-tax income compared to the family units in the non-member states. This measure increases their purchasing power, saving and investment capabilities. According to the Department of Labor of Statistics report, the states using the Right to Work law have a better economic vitality (Vedder, 2010). This condition has fostered development in the manufacturing and service sectors; there is an increased employment rate, which has boosted economic growth in the member states.
The Right to Work legislation requires other economic variables to enhance development in a state. Overreliance on the legislation to boost economic growth hinders manufacturing and service sectors from developing alternative strategies to improve the economic situation. Initiating the appropriate attitude towards work enables the state members to achieve the desired economic goals. Manufacturing firms are likely to prefer operating in the Right to Work States since there are favorable business conditions in such regions. Workers are likely to perform better when not forcefully engaged in unionism; this increases productivity in the workplace, and a sequential improvement in the overall performance of firms.
According to the proponents of the Right to Work laws, these regulations generate employment opportunities by attracting businesses, lead to higher wages, and foster union accountability. The Right to Work law advocates also argues that these regulations are morally right, because they give people an opportunity to withdraw their support for clauses in which they do not believe (Cooper, 2004). Additionally, proponents say that Right to Work laws generate a favorable environments for business activities (Johansson & Wasser, 2010); hence, lead to economic growth for states and residents. On the contrary, opponents of this clause view it as a tool meant to destroy labor unions and eliminate the freedom of collective bargaining. The critics contend that the Right to Work laws hurt unions lead to lower wages, and lower people’s living standards. Economists, however, hold a different perspective towards the Right to Work laws. Which between the two arguments is more rational?
Lonnie Stevans, an information technology professor at Hofstra University, sought to establish whether Right to Work laws lead to economic growth. In his study, Lonnie used control variables such as population changes and education levels to establish the relationship between economic growth and the Right to Work laws. This study concluded that the Right to work laws has no impact on a state’s economic growth or employment level. Other conclusions drawn from the professor’s study are that Right to Work laws do not influence capital formation, and are directly correlated to a decrease in wages (Johansson & Wasser, 2010). These findings, therefore, overrule the proponents claim that Right to Work laws spur economic growth and create employment. Do the proponents of the Right to Work laws support their argument for economic growth? Right to Work laws advocates base their claims on the experiences of the most recent states, which have adopted these regulations. These states are Oklahoma and Idaho; these states have experienced significant economic activity since the adoption of the Right to Work laws. This is particularly because the laws protect the citizens from becoming Beck Objectors, thereby promoting equality in the labor markets.
What effect does Right to Work laws have on individual wages? This is a question of interest, particularly in states, which are yet to adopt these laws. From an economic point of view, Right to Work laws have an ambiguous effect on individual wages. This is because the impacts of unions on the average wage level are also ambiguous (Cooper, 2004); therefore, because Right to Work laws affect unions, they have an ambiguous overall effect on wages. Unions dictate the level of wages for both non-union and union workers in an economy, but their net effect is unclear. This is particularly because while they decrease the wages of non-union employees, they increase the dues for union laborers. A review of past studies, however, reveals contrasting findings regarding the effect of the Right to Work laws on wages. A study conducted by Wessel in 1981, for example, established that Right to Work laws have a dependent impact on wages. Carroll in 1983 and Malhotra in 1992 concluded that Right to Work laws have a significant and negative impact on average wages. Studies by Moore and Hundley in 1986 and 1993 respectively affirmed that Right to Work laws have an insignificant effect on both non-union and union wages in the public and private sectors.
Employees are entitled to many rights and freedom in their workplaces. How are these laws developed, and enforced to workers in a business environment? They are constituted in the provisions of the act that contains several statutes in a state. For example, a right-to-work agreement provides that unions are restricted to implementation of their security contracts. Why is this situation? This is because there is a limit to the extent of influence of the union on employees’ membership, agreement fee payment after a worker is employed. What are the objectives and aims of this statute in employment? This rule is a regulation of the government to control and manage the relationships coexisting between employers and labor unions. If this is the case, what impact does the government have in these associations? The report provides an analysis that the state is involved in ensuring that non-union members do not receive their rights. It prevents breaching of contracts such as disagreeing on the payment of negotiated fees by unions.
Why do differed opinions on these laws exist in these organizations? This situation arises because some individuals believe that employees have the freedom to join or not to acquire membership in trade unions. The critics give their views that unions are involved in unfair worker treatment through asking for high membership fees (Cooper, 2004). They also suggest that they endanger the business by exposing employer activities and decisions. What is a free rider problem and how do parties involved benefit? This is a situation whereby members of a union fail to pay agency fees. They are advantaged, however, by representation. They incur fewer costs than the value they obtain from participating as members of the union.
The Right to Work law protects employees from abuse of compulsory membership of unions. The legislation declares that American citizens have a right to choose whether to join unions or support them financially. The application of the Right to Work law in the twenty-four states has contributed to economic development. The employees in the member states attain a higher after-tax income, which increases their bargaining power. The combination of the provisions in the Right to Work law and the right attitude towards work will lead to an improved economic situation within the states.The proponents and opponents of the Right to Work laws have contrasting opinions and views regarding these regulations. While the supporters claim that the Right to Work laws promote economic growth and protect employee wages, the critics argue that there is no evidence of economic growth from previous studies. The advocates of these laws argue that Oklahoma and Idaho are evidence that the Right to Work laws spur economic growth.
Cooper, W, J. (2004). Effects of Right to Work Laws on Employees, Unions and Businesses. John W. Cooper. Retrieved from http://right-to-work-laws.johnwcooper.com/
Hunter, R. P. (2002). Executive summary of the effect of right-to-work laws on economic development. Government Union Review and Public Policy Digest, 20(3), 27-30.
Johansson, E., & Wasser, M. (2010). New Research Counter Arguments for “Right-to-Work” Laws. American Rights at Work. Retrieved from http://www.neaalaska.org/sites/default/files/Research_counters_RTW_0.pdf
Leef, G. C. (2005). Free choice for workers: A history of the right to work movement. Ottawa, Ill: Jameson Books.
Vedder, R. (2010). Right-To-Work Laws: Liberty, Prosperity, and Quality of Life. Cato Journal, 30(1), 171-180.