Worker Freedom Coming in the New Year

Major labor reform is on the horizon in 2017. The forecast: worker freedom may be coming to a state near you.  

In the New Year, it is likely that three more states will give workers the choice whether or not to pay fees to a union. Due to the election outcomes, several states gained the necessary numbers to enact right-to-work laws. And all signs show that doing so is high on the legislative agenda. Those states include Missouri, New Hampshire, and Kentucky.


In the 2016 election, the people of the Show-Me State chose a Governor who is pro-right to work, Eric Greitens (R). In 2015, the Missouri state legislature passed right-to-work legislation but could not muster enough votes to override former Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto. Since Republicans maintained control of the state House and Senate, right-to-work’s passage is a near certainty for Missouri in 2017.

Workers who receive the freedom to choose are not the only beneficiaries of the law. Economic gains accompany the passage of right to work. According to research produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Missouri’s estimated per capita income loss associated with not having a right-to-work law is $3,040. In addition, Missouri’s total estimated income loss from not having a right-to-work law, over a 35-year period, was over $18 billion.


For the first time in 95 years, Republicans took control of the state House of Representatives in Kentucky. This complements Republican control of the Senate and Governor’s office. The Bluegrass state is a prime candidate to pass right-to-work legislation.

Like Missouri, Kentucky workers are losing income by not having a right-to-work law. Research shows that the Bluegrass state’s estimated per capita income loss associated with not having a right-to-work law was $2,597. In addition, Kentucky’s total estimated income loss from not having a right-to-work law, over a 35-period, was over $11 billion.

New Hampshire

One more state may flip from forced-unionism to right to work. In New Hampshire, the legislature has tried to pass right to work in 2011 and 2015, but the governor vetoed one attempt and other did not get to the governor’s desk. Now with Chris Sununu (R) elected governor of New Hampshire, right to work has an opportunity to pass.

CEI research shows that New Hampshire workers estimated per capita income loss associated with not having right-to-work law wass $2,988 and a total estimated income loss of more than $3 billion.

And just recently, the largest circulation New Hampshire paper, The Union Leader, came out in favor of right to work in an editorial that calls for the Granite State to become the first right to work state in the Northeast.

Overall, state economies with right to work on the books outpace their forced-unionism counterparts, as Mackinac Center labor expert Vincent Vernuccio notes:

Incomes are growing faster in right-to-work states. From 2000 to 2015, personal income in right-to-work states increased 91 percent compared to 72 percent in non-right-to-work states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

And this right-to-work job advantage has been true for a long time. All seven of the top states for private-sector job growth from 1995 to 2015 were right-to-work states.

Ultimately, it is a wonderful side effect that right to work produces economic benefits. However, it is about individual freedom. All hard-working men and women should be able to determine how to spend their earnings, not forced to pay a union they may not want.

The spread of worker freedom and right to work should serve as a wakeup call for unions. Unions should concern themselves far more with providing an invaluable service to workers rather than fighting against their ability to have freedom.