Misleadingly named right-to-work (RTW) laws do not, as some unfamiliar with the term may assume, entail any guarantee of employment for people ready and willing to go to work. Rather, by making it harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially, state RTW laws aim to undermine unions’ bargaining strength. Because RTW laws lower wages and benefits, weaken workplace protections, and decrease the likelihood that employers will be required to negotiate with their employees, they are advanced as a strategy for attracting new businesses to a state. But EPI research shows that RTW laws do not have any positive impact on job growth.
- September 3, 2020
- Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
- Alex Camardelle
- This Labor Day, we are reminded that there are still anti-labor policies on the books in Georgia that diminish worker power and economic opportunity for all.
- Unions play a significant role in shaping a better future for Georgia’s workers, their families and the economy overall.
Why it matters
At the expense of low-wage workers, those who wield more than their fair share of corporate and political power have facilitated and benefited from a historic rise in racial and economic inequality. Policymakers and business interests have collaborated long enough through state and local policies to make Georgia simultaneously the No. 1 place to do business and home of the No. 1 place for income inequality.
The weakening of labor protections in Georgia allowed for policies like Georgia’s Senate Bill (SB) 359 to ram through this legislative session. This bill shields businesses from liability by creating a near-impossible standard to prove gross negligence if a worker contracts COVID-19 on the job. In other words, state lawmakers bolstered protections for employers, but not for the people they employ who were forced to return to work prematurely during a deadly pandemic in a state with one of the highest infection rates, particularly among Black and Latinx Georgians.