Wisconsin Marks the 25th Right-to-Work State
Earlier today, following rigorous debate in the legislature, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law SB 44, a right-to-work bill that makes union dues and participation optional for workers. SB 44 will further expand employee rights in Wisconsin and help create an atmosphere hospitable to economic growth.
Right-to-work laws grant employees the freedom of choosing whether to financially support a union by prohibiting the payment of dues as a condition of employment. The implementation of voluntary union dues maximizes individual freedom in the pursuit of employment while holding unions more accountable to their members. Under a non-right-to-work state’s system of forced unionism, unions are less accountable to members because employees have no choice but to pay dues. Optional entry will now create higher quality representation as unions must prove their worth to employees. The result will be better representation for those employees who do choose to be a part of the union.
In addition, as we have previously detailed in our latest edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Competitiveness Index, those states which have passed right-to-work have significantly outperformed non-right-to-work states in several key economic metrics. Between 2003 and 2013, right-to-work states saw more job creation, with an average 8.6 percent increase in non-farm payroll employment, compared to only 3.7 percent for forced union states. Beyond that, workers in right-to-work states saw personal income growth of 57.9 percent, compared to 45.8 percent for states without right-to-work legislation. Finally, the economic capacity of right-to-work states grew faster, with an average growth in gross state product of 58.8 percent, while the economies of the non-right-to-work states grew by only 44.3 percent.
In 2011, Act 10, championed by Governor Walker, limited collective bargaining for most of Wisconsin’s public employees to the subject of wages. The recently passed right-to-work policy is different than Act 10 in that it does not deal with collective bargaining; it simply ensures an employee’s right to choose whether or not to financially support a union.
Wisconsin marks the 25th state to protect employee freedom to choose whether or not to belong to and financially contribute to a union. The state’s actions are part of a growing momentum of states protecting employees’ freedom of association.