Thursday, December 13, 2012

Myths And Facts About "Right-To-Work" Laws



Fox Graphic Declared States Who Haven't Passed Right-To-Work Laws "Forced-Unionism" States.During the December 10 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, Fox News aired a graphic contrasting states who have passed right-to-work laws with "forced-unionism" states: 
[Fox News, America's Newsroom12/10/12, via Media Matters]
On Fox, Dobbs And Mallory Factor Describe States Without Right-To-Work Laws As "Forced-Union" States. During the December 10 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs and his guest, anti-union activist Mallory Factor, were highly critical of states that do not have right-to-work laws, repeatedly calling them "forced-union" states. Graphic from the show:
[Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight12/10/12]

FACT: Workers In States Without Right-To-Work Laws Are Not Forced Into Unions

Economist Dean Baker: "Workers At Any Workplace Always Have The Option As To Whether Or Not To Join A Union." In a 2011 post for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, economist Dean Baker pointed out that workers always have a choice whether to work for a union, whether or not their state has passed right-to-work laws:
"Right to work" is a great name from the standpoint of proponents, just like the term "death tax" is effective for opponents of the estate tax, but it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. It is widely believed that in the absence of right-to-work laws workers can be forced to join a union. This is not true. Workers at any workplace always have the option as to whether or not to join a union.
Right-to-work laws prohibit contracts that require that all the workers who benefit from union representation to pay for union representation. In states without right-to-work laws unions often sign contracts that require that all the workers in a bargaining unit pay a representation fee to the union that represents the bargaining unit. [Center for Economic and Policy Research,2/28/11]
Maine Center For Economic Policy: "Right-To-Work Laws Are Essentially Unfair" And "Not Needed To Protect Nonunion Workers." The Maine Center for Economic Policy similarly found that right-to-work laws are not fair because nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a "free ride" and the laws are "not needed to protect nonunion workers" because federal laws already protect workers from being forced into joining a union:
Right-to-work laws are essentially unfair. If Maine passed a right-to-work law, nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a "free ride." They would receive the benefits of union representation, in terms of job protections, wages and benefits, without paying for any of the costs.
[...]
A right-to-work law is not needed to protect nonunion workers. Several federal laws already protect the rights of nonunion employees in unionized workplaces, such as the NLRB vs. General Motors Supreme Court decision in 1963, and the Communication Workers vs. Beck decision of 1988. Under federal labor law, workers cannot be legally required to join a union as part of a collective bargaining contract. [Maine Center for Economic Policy, 2/19/11]
Center For American Progress: "Right-To-Work Has Nothing To Do With People Being Forced To Be Union Members." The Center for American Progress report titled "Right-to-Work 101" explained that federal laws already guarantee that no worker can be forced to join a union:
In states where the law exists, "right-to-work" makes it illegal for workers and employers to negotiate a contract requiring everyone who benefits from a union contract to pay their fair share of the costs of administering it. Right-to-work has nothing to do with people being forced to be union members.
Federal law already guarantees that no one can be forced to be a member of a union, or to pay any amount of dues or fees to a political or social cause they don't support. What right-to-work laws do is allow some workers to receive a free ride, getting the advantages of a union contract -- such as higher wages and benefits and protection against arbitrary discipline -- without paying any fee associated with negotiating on these matters.
That's because the union must represent all workers with the same due diligence regardless of whether they join the union or pay it dues or other fees and a union contract must cover all workers, again regardless of their membership in or financial support for the union. In states without right-to-work laws, workers covered by a union contract can refuse union membership and pay a fee covering only the costs of workplace bargaining rather than the full cost of dues. [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/2/12]
NLRB: Workers That Don't Want Full Union Membership "Pay Only That Share Of Dues Used Directly For Representation" Of Union Contract They Work Under. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) explains that workers do not have to be full union members, but instead must only pay for the union representation they receive by working at a union shop, regardless of their membership status:
The NLRA allows employers and unions to enter into union-security agreements, which require all employees in a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of being hired.
Even under a security agreement, employees who object to full union membership may continue as 'core' members and pay only that share of dues used directly for representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration. Known as objectors, they are no longer full members but are still protected by the union contract. Unions are obligated to tell all covered employees about this option, which was created by a Supreme Court ruling and is known as the Beck right. [National Labor Relations Board, accessed 12/6/12]

MYTH: Right-To-Work Leads To Higher Wages And Benefits

USA Today Op-Ed: Right-To-Work Creates Higher Wages, Which Help Grow Economy. In a December 6 opinion article in USA Today, Mackinac Center for Public Policy's F. Vincent Vernuccio claimed:
In other words, though Michigan's economy is going in the right direction, it can't let up now. And that's where a right-to-work law comes in to play.
Consider a few top-line facts about right-to-work states. Private-sector employee compensation in right-to-work states has grown by an inflation-adjusted 12.0% between 2001-2011, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares with just 3.0% over the same period in states where workers can be forced to join a union as a condition of getting a job.
With growing paychecks come growing populations. Between 2000 and 2011, right-to-work states have seen an increase of 11.3% in the number of residents between the ages of 25-34 according to the Bureau of the Census. Non right-to-work states, over that same period, have seen an increase of only 0.6%. [USA Today12/6/2012]
On Fox, Guest Said Right-To-Work Legislation Increases Compensation And Improves The Economy.In a December 7 segment on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Penn State Financial Group's Matt McCall pushed the same numbers Vernuccio cited to suggest right-to-work laws bolstered wages and reduced unemployment:
McCALL: Well, If you look at the numbers, Bill, Steve's hit it right on the head. If you look from 2001 to 2011, look at the right-to-work states. Inflation adjusted compensation rose for employees, private sector employees, about 12 percent versus the non-right-to-work states only increased by 3 percent. So what happens when you're making more money? You then increase the amount of people that want to move to your state. In that same time frame -- you take a look again at right-to-work states -- you saw the population from 25-34 increase by 11.3 percent. In non-right to work states, increase by .6. So what that means is as more people move to your state, it's more tax revenue, you have more jobs, more companies coming there. So really, if you put it all together, it's great for the local economy. [Fox News, America's Newsroom12/7/2012 via Media Matters]
WSJ: Michigan GOP Lawmakers Consider "Right-To-Work" Law "To Help The Lagging State Economy." In a December 5 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that there are "economic benefits" to a so-called "right-to-work" law for Michigan and promoted it as a "happy possibility":
Unions lost big in Michigan in November when voters rejected Proposal 2, Big Labor's plan to canonize collective bargaining in the state constitution. Now they are facing a backlash with the happy possibility that Michigan could become the 24th right-to-work state.
Lawmakers have been preparing to introduce a right-to-work bill in the state legislature, and the labor cavalry is heading to the Wolverine state.
[...]
[T]he economy has languished. Michigan is the fifth most unionized state in the country and the birthplace of the UAW. According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan has lost 7,300 jobs since January, while next-door Indiana, which became a right-to-work state earlier this year, has been on the upswing.
[...]
[I]f a right-to-work law passed the legislature, unions could still try to repeal it on the ballot, as they did this year with the emergency manager law, which let the Governor appoint emergency financial managers who could redo collective-bargaining agreements. By the time a similar fight could be waged against right to work, voters could have had more than a year to see the law's economic benefits. [The Wall Street Journal12/5/12]

FACT: Studies Show Right-To-Work Laws Lead to Lower Wages and Benefits For Workers

Economic Policy Institute: Right-To-Work Laws Force Employees To "Work For Lower Wages And Fewer Benefits." Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), studied what they called "the compensation penalty of 'right-to-work' laws" and concluded:
[O]ur findings -- that "right-to-work" laws are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions -- are based on the most rigorous statistical analysis currently possible. These findings should discourage right-to-work policy initiatives. The fact is, while RTW legislation misleadingly sounds like a positive change in this weak economy, in reality the opportunity it gives workers is only that to work for lower wages and fewer benefits. For legislators dedicated to making policy on the basis of economic fact rather than ideological passion, our findings indicate that, contrary to the rhetoric of RTW proponents, the data show that workers in "right-to-work" states have lower compensation -- both union and nonunion workers alike.
EPI estimated that right to work leads to a 3 percent decrease in hourly wages and a decrease in benefits for all workers. 
[Economic Policy Institute, 2/17/114/5/11]
McClatchy: "Numerous Studies Have Found That Wages For Both Union And Non-Union Workers Are Lower In States With Right-To-Work Laws." McClatchy Newspapers reported that wages are lower for all workers in states that have passed right-to-work laws:
Numerous studies have found that wages for both union and non-union workers are lower in states with right-to-work laws. Others have found that workplace safety suffers in right-to-work states, where workers are less likely to secure job safety enhancements beyond federal and state regulations. [McClatchy Newspapers, 2/16/12]
Congressional Research Service: Workers In Right-To-Work States Make An Average Of $7,000 Less Than Those In Non-Right-To-Work States. Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Congressional Research Service reported that the average wage in a right-to-work state was $42,465, compared with $49,495 in "labor security" states. [Congressional Research Service, 6/20/12]
Economic Policy Institute: Wages for Union And Non-Union Workers Are Lower by "An Average of $1,500 a year." In an EPI article, political economist Gordon Lafer explained that right-to-work laws not only lead to lower wages, but also led to reduced benefits for workers:
RTW laws lower wages for union and non-union workers by an average of $1,500 a year and decrease the likelihood employees will get health insurance or pensions through their jobs. By lowering compensation, they have the indirect effect of undermining consumer spending, which threatens economic growth. For every $1 million in wage cuts to workers, $850,000 less is spent in the economy, which translates into a loss of six jobs. [Economic Policy Institute,9/16/11]
Hofstra University's Lonnie Stevans: "Wages And Personal Income Are Both Lower In Right-To-Work States." In an analysis of the economic impact of "right-to-work" laws, Hofstra University professor Lonnie Stevans wrote:
Wages and personal income are both lower in right-to-work states, yet proprietors' income is higher. As a result, while right-to-work states may maintain a somewhat better business environment relative to non-right-to-work states, these benefits do not necessarily translate into increased economic verve for the right-to-work states as a whole -- there appears to be little 'trickle-down' to the largely non-unionized workforce in these states. [Review of Law & Economics, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2009]

MYTH: Right-To-Work Leads To Higher Employment

Fox's Jarrett Suggests Numbers Show States With Right-To-Work Laws Have More Jobs. During the December 11 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett listed off a series of employment statistics he claimed proved right-to-work benefits job growth:
JARRETT: Advocates for right to work legislation say it means more jobs for the states, and the numbers seem to bear that out. Take a look at this: over a 10-year period of time, employment increased 10.3 percent in right-to-work states and increased only 1.9 percent in non-right-to-work states. Looking at the national average over the last decade, employment increased by about 5 percent, and the current unemployment picture showing the same trend. As of October, the average unemployment rate in right-to-work states is 6.9 percent but 7.6 percemnt unemployment in non-right-to-work states. The national rate for that month, 7.9 percent. [Fox News, America's Newsroom12/11/12
On Fox, Guest Said Right-To-Work Legislation Creates More Jobs And Improves The Economy. In a December 7th segment on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Penn State Financial Group's Matt McCall suggested right-to-work laws bolstered wages and reduced unemployment:
McCALL: Well, If you look at the numbers, Bill, Steve's hit it right on the head. If you look from 2001 to 2011, look at the right-to-work states. Inflation adjusted compensation rose for employees, private sector employees, about 12 percent versus the non-right-to-work states only increased by 3 percent. So what happens when you're making more money? You then increase the amount of people that want to move to your state. In that same time frame -- you take a look again at right-to-work states -- you saw the population from 25-34 increase by 11.3 percent. In non-right to work states, increase by .6. So what that means is as more people move to your state, it's more tax revenue, you have more jobs, more companies coming there. So really, if you put it all together, it's great for the local economy. [Fox News, America's Newsroom12/7/2012 via Media Matters]

FACT: "Right-To-Work" Laws Have Little Impact On Employment

Center For American Progress: "Researchers Find That "Right-To-Work" Laws Have "No Significant Positive Impact Whatsoever On Employment." The Center for American Progress report titled "Right-to-Work 101" explains that "[r]ight-to-work laws don't create jobs":
Researchers who study the impact of right-to-work laws find that these laws do not create jobs--despite supporters' claims to the contrary. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, for example, claims that "unionization increases labor costs," and therefore makes a given location less attractive to capital. The purpose, then, of right-to-work laws is to undermine unions and therefore lower wages in a given state, thus attracting more companies into the state.
But in practice this low-road strategy for job creation just doesn't pan out. Despite boosters' promises of job creation, researchers find that right-to-work had "no significant positive impact whatsoever on employment" in Oklahoma, the only state to have adopted a right-to-work law over the past 25 years-until Indiana did so days ago-and consequently the best example of how a new adopter of right-to-work laws might fare in today's economy. In fact, both the number of companies relocating to Oklahoma and the total number of manufacturing jobs in the state fell by about a third since it adopted such a law in 2001.
Indeed, most right-to-work advocates' purported evidence of job growth is based on outdated research and misleading assertions. An Indiana Chamber of Commerce-commissioned study found right-to-work states had higher employment growth between 1977 and 2008 compared to states without a right-to-work law, but much of that growth could be attributed to other factors. Those factors included the states' infrastructure quality, and even its weather--which the study ignored. [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/2/12]
EPI: Evidence Shows "Right-To-Work" Legislation "Has No Statistically Significant Impact Whatsoever" On Job Growth. The Economic Policy Institute analyzed employment growth in states with and without "right-to-work" laws and found that "the evidence is overwhelming" that "right-to-work laws have not succeeded in boosting employment growth in the states that have adopted them." The report also stated:
[T]he history of right-to-work studies has a clear trajectory. The more scholars are able to hold "all other things" equal, the more it becomes clear that these laws have little or no positive impact on a state's job growth. The most recent and most methodologically rigorous studies conclude that the policy has no statistically significant impact whatsoever. [Economic Policy Institute, 3/16/11]
Hofstra's Stevans: "Right-To-Work" Laws Result In "Little Or No Gain" In Employment And Economic Growth. Hofstra University professor Lonnie Stevans analyzed the economic impact of "right-to-work" laws and concluded that "from a state's economic standpoint, being right-to-work yields little or no gain in employment and real economic growth." [Review of Law & Economics, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2009]
AP: Experts Say It's "Nearly Impossible" To Show Impact Of "Right-To-Work" Laws On State Economies. From an Associated Press article on "right-to-work" laws:
The evidence on the issue is abundant, but also conflicting and murky. The clearest conclusion, according to many experts, is that the economies of states respond to a mix of factors, ranging from the swings in the national economy to demographic trends, and that isolating the impact of right-to-work is nearly impossible.
Obscuring the answer is "the difficulty of distinguishing the effects of the RTW laws from state characteristics, as well as other state policies that are unrelated with these laws," said economists Ozkan Eren and Serkan Ozbeklik, who conducted a major study last year of the right-to-work laws in Oklahoma and Idaho.
For major industries, the chief factors in choosing locations tend to be access to supplies, infrastructure, key markets and a skilled workforce, according to business-recruitment specialists. For a state's workers, the impact of the laws is limited because only about 7 percent of private-sector employees are unionized. Over the years, job growth has surged in states with and without right-to-work laws.
"The reason we don't have clear views (on right-to-work laws) is because it's always being debated at its extremes," said Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University in Massachusetts, who assigns his students to analyze the issue each year. In the end, when it comes to jobs and the law, "we don't know causation," he said. [Associated Press, 1/28/12]

MYTH: Right-To-Work Laws Protect Workers From Supporting Political Spending

Fox News' Steve Doocy: "Right-To-Work" Means You No Longer Have To Pay Union Dues That Go To "Political Causes You Don't Support." On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy hyped right-to-work laws, saying these laws will make it so that workers aren't compelled by unions to pay money that go to causes they do not support:
DOOCY: Later on today, the Michigan House of Representatives is going to take up two bills, they were passed by the state senate in Michigan on Thursday. They're right-to-work bills. And what they would do is they would make, effectively, Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the country, which means you would not have to join a union as a pre-condition of employment. For instance, if you are a teacher, and you don't like the fact that, you know, you got to pay union dues and it goes to political causes that you don't support, going forward, you won't have to, in Michigan. [Fox News, Fox & Friends12/11/12]
Wall Street Journal: "Right-To-Work" Ends Union's Ability To "Coerce Workers To Join And Pay Dues That They Then Funnel To Politicians Who Protect Union Power." Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that if states adopt "right-to-work" laws, unions could not "coerce workers to join and pay dues that they then funnel to politicians who protect union power." [The Wall Street Journal12/10/12]

FACT: Workers Can Opt Out Of Full Union Membership And Prevent Fees From Supporting Political Spending  

NLRB: Workers That Don't Want Full Union Membership "Pay Only That Share Of Dues Used Directly For Representation" Of Union Contract They Work Under. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) explains that workers do not have to be full union members, but instead must only pay for the union representation they receive by working at a union shop, regardless of their membership status:
The NLRA allows employers and unions to enter into union-security agreements, which require all employees in a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of being hired.
Even under a security agreement, employees who object to full union membership may continue as 'core' members and pay only that share of dues used directly for representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration. Known as objectors, they are no longer full members but are still protected by the union contract. Unions are obligated to tell all covered employees about this option, which was created by a Supreme Court ruling and is known as the Beck right. [National Labor Relations Board, accessed 12/11/12]
CWA v. Beck: Unions Cannot Force Non-Members To Pay Dues For Political Action. In the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court case Communications Workers v. Beck, the majority found that the Communications Workers of America (CWA) could not charge non-members in work places they organize fees that paid for political action by the union. [U.S. Supreme Court,CWA v. Beck6/29/88]
Locke v. Karass: Non-Union Workers At Organized Work Places Cannot Be Forced To Pay For "Political, Public Relations, Or Lobbying" Activities By Unions. In a 2009U.S. Supreme Court decision, the majority, echoing past precedent, reaffirmed that non-union members in work places are only to pay a service fee that equaled to the amount collective bargaining services and contract maintenance services cost. [U.S. Supreme Court, Locke v. Karass, 1/21/09]
Post a Comment