Private-sector workers in states without Right-to-Work laws can still be forced to pay fees to a union they vehemently disagree with, even as their public sector counterparts were freed from paying forced union dues by the Supreme Court in June.
But more and more states are deciding that forced dues payments are unfair to workers. Missouri is now on the verge of becoming the 29th Right-to-Work state. Voters will have the opportunity to ensure no worker can be forced to financially support a union as a condition of employment. On August 7, Missourians can vote “Yes” on Proposition A to enact that worker freedom in the Show-Me State.
The purpose and impact of the law is straightforward and fair. It promotes the principle that workers deserve the freedom to choose how to spend their hard-earned pay. Yet, Big Labor and other detractors of giving workers individual freedom fight it and spread misinformation about it.
Right-to-Work laws do not ban or undermine unions, for example. Enacting Prop A in Missouri does not prohibit any worker from voluntarily joining a union or paying full-fledged dues. Rather it provides an escape hatch for individuals who do not value union representation. In turn, this holds unions accountable to their own members. Under Right-to-Work, if a worker does not think the union is earning its keep, that person can simply opt-out of paying.
At least one union official has even acknowledged that Right-to-Work laws can actually aid, not impede, union organizing campaigns. United Automobile Workers union official Gary Casteel once stated, “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’”
Another common attack on Right-to-Work is that it undermines the middle class and workers’ rights, as Pat “Duke” Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, told the Kansas City Star.
This is another myth. Right-to-Work gives workers an additional right they didn’t have before—the right to choose whether or not to pay union dues. It also produces tangible benefits to the middle class by attracting businesses to a state. The state’s status in that regard is a top consideration for a business trying to decide where to locate the company.
As recounted in The Wall Street Journal, Craig Bouchard, CEO of Brand Industries, chose to build his $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Ashland, Kentucky because it had recently enacted Right-to-Work. The mill is expected to open in 2020 and create 550 good-paying middle class jobs. On average, pay at the plant will be $70,000 and include access to benefits like health insurance, exercise room, and day-care center. As of now, Missouri assuredly did not make Mr. Bouchard’s cut when “he drew up a list of 24 potential sites” of where to locate his mill, due to the state’s non-Right-to-Work status.
The real reason why unions disapprove of Right-to-Work and have poured millions into defeating Prop A is because it eliminates their coercive power. For decades, unions have had the power in Missouri to compel individual workers to pay or else face consequences. In the lead up to the vote on Prop A, unions have made it clear they prefer to strong-arm workers than to take a hard look at their own performance and think of ways to provide valuable services that workers want to voluntarily pay for.
Hopefully, on August 7, voters say “Yes” on Prop A and turn the tables by giving workers the power to decide how they spend their hard-earned money.
Trey Kovacs is a labor policy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.