So-Called "Right-to-Work"

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.

Publications

Manufacturing Job Growth Has Slowed in Kentucky Since Passage of “Right-To-Work”

Manufacturing job losses in recent decades have hurt Kentucky communities. Two recessions and trade policies that have encouraged outsourcing and made American goods more expensive relative to other countries’ have led to the loss of these relatively high-quality jobs which once provided a decent standard of living for more Kentuckians. Despite the claims of proponents of “Right-To-Work” (RTW), which was enacted in Kentucky in 2017, employment data suggests the policy hasn’t led to a hiring boom in manufacturing.

A new way forward: 10 ways to support Ohio’s working people

State policy can also rig the system against workers. The Ohio legislature has barred local governments from improving working conditions, banned local hire ordinances that help set aside work for local residents, and passed tax cuts that favor the wealthiest Ohioans at the expense of our roads, schools and health care. But there are solutions. We can strengthen Ohio’s working people and create an economy that works for everyone by helping workers to speak up together, raising wages, and investing in communities instead of corporations.

State and federal policy makers can make sure all Ohio’s working people – not just the top 1 percent – can enjoy a decent life free from economic insecurity. Although this is by no means a definitive list[5], this report offers a new path forward with practical policy solutions that can be implemented today.

Fast Facts: “Right-to-Work” Won’t Boost West Virginia’s Economy

“Right-to-Work” laws do not guarantee jobs for workers. Instead they prohibit unions and employers from including a provision in contracts that requires employees who benefit from union representation to pay for their fair share toward those costs. PDF of Fast Facts.

Some state lawmakers argue that if West Virginia adopted a so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) law it would boost job growth, workforce participation and manufacturing in the state. But that theory is built on relationships that do not exist and a misunderstanding of the evidence. The most rigorous analysis shows RTW laws have no significant impact on state economic growth but do lead to lower wages, less benefits, and a decrease in unionization.