Right To Work and The Rust Belt

Right to Work is sweeping the rust belt! Workers are free to choose whether or not they would like to join a union in Michigan and Indiana, in the heart of the rust belt, as well as in its further reaches such as Iowa.  Now, it looks like Right to Work legislation will be coming up on the ballot in Missouri this fall.

Right to Work gives workers the freedom to choose whether or not they would like to be in a union and forced membership can no longer be a condition of employment. It doesn’t do away with unions, rather workers are more than welcome to join a union if they think that the benefits are worth the dues. However, if a worker does not feel that it’s worth his or her money, that worker can choose to opt out or leave without losing his or her job. It’s as simple as that.

Let’s take a look at Indiana. They have seen over a year straight of private-sector job growth since passing Right to Work legislation and per capita income has grown as well. More than 100 companies cited the legislation as a major factor in deciding whether or not to relocate to Indiana. With this in mind, Michigan (their neighbor to the north), passed Right to Work in March to boost their troubled economy.

Right to Work is a boost for state population and subsequent tax revenue. Of the fastest growing cities in the United States, 77 out of 100 are in Right to Work states. This is not a fluke. Antony Davies of Duquesne University said  “In every year from 1985 to 2009 (the last year measured), states with the most economic freedom have seen significantly more population growth than states with less economic freedom… the 25 most economically free states have seen higher incomes, lower unemployment rates, lower poverty rates, and (interestingly) more equitable income distributions than did the 25 least economically free states.” In addition, Right to Work states have less debt.  

Now, Right to Work may come to Missouri. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder said “I believe we will pass right-to-work next year … by putting it on the referendum ballot for voters.” Labor unions are, typically, running scared. “AFL-CIO and the affiliated unions will pump millions of dollars to protect labor rights,” Bob Soutier, President of St. Louis Construction Labor Contractors, told The Missouri Times. That begs the question; of what are they so afraid? If unions are executing their role well, they have nothing to be worried about. Membership will grow and members will find their union dues well spent, right? Perhaps the problem is that union membership is already on the decline in Missouri and, without force, they know they will lose even more influence. Rather than rework their value proposition, they want to use strong-arm tactics.

With success like this in the rust belt, one hopes the rest of the states in that region won’t be far behind. If Right to Work passes in Missouri, that will be 25 of our 50 states offering workplace freedom. Let’s keep the momentum going and tip the scales.