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Survey: One-Third of Union Workers Would Opt Out of Membership

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A new survey shows nearly 30 percent of union members nationwide would opt out of union membership if they knew they could keep their job without penalty. The survey was conducted by the National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW) campaign, which this week is conducting an annual education effort to inform union members about their workplace rights, specifically their right to leave their union. NEFW runs Sunday, August 14 through Saturday, August 20 and consists of over 100 organizations, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).  

“Right-to-work laws are under attack from labor union lawsuits and are potentially at risk,” said Trey Kovacs, a CEI labor policy expert. (See: Wisconsin Judge Rules that Workers' Wages are Unions’ Property)

“National Employee Freedom Week is a crucial public service to counteract this assault on worker freedom,” said Kovacs. “All hardworking men and women should know about their freedom to opt out of union membership, especially since many workers do not approve of their union’s political spending.”

The NEFW Google Consumer Survey poll surveyed 300 union members nationwide and found 28.7 percent of respondents answered “Yes” to the question, “If it were possible to opt out of membership in a labor union without losing your job or any other penalty, would you do it?”

CEI’s own in-depth analysis on the economics of right-to-work, published in 2014, found that a state’s right-to-work (RTW) status has big economic consequences. Income levels would have been higher by some $3,000 per person, or $13,000 for a family of four, if non-RTW states had adopted such laws decades ago. The study ranked states’ per capita income loss from not having a RTW law. Evidence suggests higher economic growth in RTW states.

The NEFW surveys were conducted by Google Consumer Surveys, between July 13 and August 2, 2016. They each surveyed roughly 300 people and have a margin of error of approximately 6 percent.