Here is another important fact about right-to-work laws -- there is nothing stopping unions from negotiating only for their members. That means if someone opts out of paying the union dues, they could be told by the union that the contract we are negotiating for is exclusively for union members and you are on your own. The National Labor Relations Act gives unions the right to exclusively negotiate, but they would rather scream about freeloaders because they are afraid their power will be diminished if there is any competition in the workplace.
All of the states with the lowest unemployment rates are right-to-work states. North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Wyoming and Nebraska have the lowest unemployment rates and all give employees the right to choose. The 24 states that are right-to-work fairly much align with the states that are run by Republicans (see December 3rd column). It is also where companies are moving to in droves. 5 million people relocated from union-controlled states to right-to-work states in the past decade.
Unions argue that they create a better living for the worker. They argue that wages are higher within their domain. They are correct. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in union controlled states, the average annual wage is $49,495 as opposed to $42,465 in right-to-work states. But that is a mirage. The cost of living and taxes are much higher in the unionized states. Ask yourself would you rather have $49,495 in high-tax/high-cost-of-living states like New York, Connecticut and California, or $42,465 is low-tax, low-cost-of-living states like Kansas, Texas or Florida? It is fair to say that the extra money evaporates in the unionized states. And if you are not in a union in a unionized state, you are at a distinct financial disadvantage. Additionally eight of the ten states with the highest growth rate for personal income are right-to-work states. The brightest future lies in the right-to-work states.
Michigan made this move because they saw the handwriting on the wall. The state is a disaster zone and only beginning to get better. The model state in the old rust belt is Indiana, which became a Republican controlled state years ago and right-to-work in 2010. In the past year Indiana added 43,300 jobs and Michigan lost 4,200. Can Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania be far behind to stem the flow of people and jobs from their states?
Yet, the real problem is not the private industry unions. It is the public employee unions. Next week we will address that issue.