Right-to-Work laws

Right to Work laws are designed to take away the rights workers have gained from unions: living wage, equal pay for women, retirement security, the ability to negotiate workplace standards and working conditions, and overtime pay.

The goal of this legislation is to destroy unions. Simply put, this legislation says workers can benefit from a union contract and not have to pay union dues. What happens in states that have passed theseRTW laws? Most workers end up not paying dues, defunding the unions that represent them. Once a union contract is eliminated corporations no longer have to negotiate with workers. All wages, benefits and workplace protections previously guaranteed by a contract can be ignored by corporations, giving them take-it-or-leave-it power over workers. Corporate servitude.

Twenty-five states have enacted corporate servitude laws (West Virginia RTW law takes effect 5/2016 bringing the total to 26 states) resulting in:

Lower Wages and Incomes

The average worker in states with Right to Work laws makes $1,540 a year less when all other factors are removed than workers in other states.1

Median household income in states with these laws is $6,437 less than in other states ($46,402 vs. $52,839).2

In states with Right to Work laws, 26.7 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 19.5 percent of jobs in other states.3

Less Job-Based Health Insurance Coverage

People in states with Right to Work laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with 13.1 percent overall; among children, it’s 10.8 percent vs. 7.5 percent).4

They’re less likely to have job-based health insurance than people in other states (56.2 percent, compared with 60.1 percent).5

Only 50.7 percent of employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 55.2 percent in other states. That difference is even more significant among small employers (with fewer than 50 workers)—only 34.4 percent of them offer workers health insurance, compared with 41.7 percent of small employers in other states.6

Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates

Poverty rates are higher in states with Right to Work laws (15.3 percent overall and 21.5 percent for children), compared with poverty rates of 13.1 percent overall and 18.1 percent for children in states without these laws.7

The infant mortality rate is 15 percent higher in states with these laws.8

Less Investment in Education

States with Right to Work laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states, and students are less likely to be performing at their appropriate grade level in math and reading.9

Higher Rates of Death on the Job

The rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with these laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.10

1 Economic Policy Institute.

2 U.S. Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State.

3 CFED, Asset and Opportunity Scorecard.

4 Kaiser Family Foundation.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Census Bureau, POV46: Poverty Status by State: 2010, related children under 18; Table 19. Percent of Persons in Poverty, by State: 2008, 2009 and 2010.

8 Kaiser Family Foundation.

9 National Education Association, Rankings & Estimates–Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012, December 2011; CFED, Asset & Opportunity Scorecard.

10 AFL-CIO, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, April 2012.