Right-to-Work At a Glance

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What You Need to Know

  • Right-to-work is a catch-all term referring to laws and statutes that prohibit employees from being forced to join a union in order to be offered or keep a job.
  • In states with right-to-work laws, employees in these companies may not be compelled to join unions, or partake in union membership as a condition of employment.
  • In states with paycheck protection laws, the unions are required to collect their own dues from members, rather than having dues removed directly from a paycheck before employees are paid.
  • During the last six years, traditionally industrial midwest and union-strong states have made the change to enact right-to-work protections: Indiana and Michigan in 2012, Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2016, and Kentucky and Missouri in 2017.
  • Four other states considered right-to-work legislation in 2017: New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
  • 28 States now have right-to-work laws on the books, meaning that there are now more states adopting these reforms than not, with 22 states now maintaining at-will labor laws.
  • Importantly, right-to-work legislation has held up against court challenges. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Indiana’s right-to-work law in September 2014, and Wisconsin’s right-to-work law in July 2017 in the face of a second challenge.
  • In 2016, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld local right-to-work in Kentucky, which is an ordinance based on American City County Exchange (ACCE) model policy, listed below.
  • Right-to-work allows employees to avoid union coercion, exercise their right to seek a wage of their choosing and protect themselves from mandatory union fees and dues.
  • Right-to-work allows states to remain competitive and restrict the ability of unions to dominate industries and inflate costs and regulation.

Primer: The Case for Right-to-Work