As you shop for back-to-school supplies for your kids or food for the Labor Day cookout, consider this: the clerks, shelf stockers, truck drivers and factory workers who make that possible can all be legally forced to pay money to a union or else be fired.
Why? Because Montana is one of the 23 forced-unionism states remaining in America. In your state, a union official can legally have a worker fired for not paying union dues or fees.
You are not alone if this sounds absurd. According to a national Gallup poll, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans agree: no worker should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
While the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision last year ended all compelled union payments for public sector workers, the private sector workforce in forced-unionism states can still be subjected to compulsory payments to union officials to keep their jobs.
Big Labor union bosses in Montana enjoy a special privilege that allows them to expand their ranks through compulsion. Union bosses can impose a monopoly bargaining contract, including a forced-dues clause that requires every employee (even the ones who reject union membership) to pay union dues or fees, just for getting or keeping a job.
While forced unionism is just plain wrong, coercing workers into subsidizing union officials also holds back a state’s economy.
There are now 27 Right to Work states in America, with Kentucky most recently joining the ranks in 2017. These states have passed and implemented laws to repeal Big Labor’s special power to force workers to pay them fees as a condition of employment.
The absence of forced unionism gives Right to Work states an economic leg-up.
According to a National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) report drawing on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of individuals employed from 2008 to 2018 grew twice as rapidly in Right to Work states as in forced unionism states, 10.8% versus only 5.0% in states that permit a worker to be fired for not paying a union official.
Furthermore, the NILRR found that after adjusting for the cost of living, the 2017 mean after-tax household income in Right to Work states was about $4,500 higher than average households from forced unionism states.
Not surprisingly workers are flocking to the opportunities Right to Work provides. From 2008 to 2018, Right to Work states saw their aggregate population of people in their peak earning years (35-54) grow by 1.5%, even as the population for this demographic decreased by 7.9% in non-Right to Work states.
The facts speak for themselves.
So it is no surprise that a growing number of states have ended Big Labor’s chokehold, freed their workforce, and realized the economic opportunity a Right to Work law brings.
In the last nine years, five new states – including Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin – have joined the Right to Work ranks, freeing their workers from Big Labor’s forced unionism privilege.
Right to Work laws do not outlaw labor unions, and they do not prevent any worker from joining a labor union if they choose. Right to Work laws simply codify one commonsense principle: Every worker should have the choice to join a labor union, but no worker should be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.
So as you celebrate Labor Day, consider the benefits of Right to Work. Consider your neighbor that might land a newly created job. Consider the new manufacturing plant that might open its doors. Consider what $4,500 could mean for your family. Demand your elected officials embrace worker freedom and economic opportunity. Help make Montana the next Right to Work state.
—Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee.