Right to Work is Right for Wisconsin
Right to Work Update Seminars
Tuesday, April 7, 2015 – Waukesha | Neenah | Manitowoc
WMC, in cooperation with the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich, will walk you through the events that led up to Wisconsin becoming a Right to Work state, the reasons why it is important for our competitiveness and, most importantly, what it means to employers in the state.
Gov. Walker Signs Right to Work Legislation to Provide Workplace Freedom
March 9, 2015
Gov. Walker thanks WMC just before signing Right to Work into law
Governor Scott Walker today expanded workplace freedom and improved the state’s business climate when he signed historic Right to Work legislation at Badger Meter.
“Governor Walker has put our state on the national landscape for job creation and business expansion by signing Right to Work legislation today,” said Kurt R. Bauer, WMC President/CEO. WMC is Wisconsin’s chamber of commerce. “Governor Walker’s visionary leadership on reforming government unions, and now providing workplace freedom to private sector workers, has made our state a national leader in expanding economic freedom and prosperity for our citizens.”
Bauer added: “Combined with tax relief, regulation relief and lawsuit reform, the Walker era is an era of growth, hope and opportunity that has seen job creation go up and unemployment go down.”
On Monday, Walker signed the Right to Work bill at Badger Meter, 4545 W. Brown Deer Road, in Brown Deer. Passage of Right to Work is a top policy reform on the WMC public policy agenda. Right to Work prohibits firing workers who opt out of paying union dues.
WMC Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley said that the Right to Work reforms significantly improves the business climate.
“Wisconsin is truly open for business,” Manley said. “Site selectors frequently just skip states that are not Right to Work. This reform puts us on the map for job creators. “
In late February, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) announced that they would bring the Legislature into extraordinary session to pass the workplace freedom reform. In 2011, the Legislature and the Governor enacted Right to Work for government unions in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is the 25th state in the nation to pass private sector Right to Work legislation. In recent years, Indiana and Michigan passed Right to Work laws.
“We need to compete with our industrial competitors in the Upper Midwest,” Bauer said. “We hope to see Wisconsin compete and beat other states for jobs in the future with this reform.”
WMC RADIO AD: Wisconsin Needs Right to Work Right Now!
Video News Release
WMC released a Right to Work video news release Wed., Feb. 25, 2015 after the Senate passed the Right to Work bill. Media outlets can download the broadcast-quality HD file here and preview the file on YouTube and use all or portions of the clip in their coverage of this important issue.
Poll Finds 69 Percent Support Right to Work
In a recent poll released by WMC, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support Right to Work legislation by a margin of 69 percent to 26 percent, including a majority 51 percent from union households. See the WMC News Release and polling memo for more information.
What is Right to Work?
Right to Work laws give workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a labor union and pay dues. Right to Work protects employees by prohibiting them from being forced to join a union and pay dues as a condition of their employment.
Right to Work does not eliminate existing unions, does not void existing labor contracts, does not prohibit collective bargaining, and does not prohibit workers from organizing a union.
Economic Measures in Right to Work States
- Competitive Business Climate. Site selectors who advise businesses on where to expand or locate a new business say that 75% of their clients view Right to Work as an “important” or “very important” factor and typically half will not even consider investing in a forced-union state.
- More Job Creation. During the 10-year period from 2004-2013, Right to Work states added 3.6 million jobs – significantly more than the 1.5 million in forced-union states.
- Faster Job Growth. From 2004-2013, Right to Work states grew jobs by an average of 5.3%, which is more than twice the rate of forced union states (2.1%).
- Higher Wage Growth. Right to Work states grew wages by an average of 15.1% from 2003-2013, while wage growth lagged in forced-union states at 8.2%
- Higher Manufacturing Output. Manufacturing GDP grew by 26.1% in Right to Work states from 2003-2013, compared to 13.8% in forced-union states.
- More Disposable Income. When differences in cost-of-living variations between states are taken into account, employees in Right to Work states had per capita disposable income of $38,915 in 2013, nearly $2,000 per year more than the $36,959 in forced-union states.
- More Workers. Right to Work states grew population by 4.9 million people in the ten-year period from 2003-2012, while forced-union states lost 4.9 million people.
Common Right to Work Myths
- The Middle Class Argument. Unions often claim that Right to Work hurts the middle class. However, the objective data show that Right to Work states have faster job growth, faster wage growth and higher disposable income. It’s unclear how any of those economic measures are bad for the middle class.
- The Poverty Argument. Opponents often argue that Right to Work will reduce wages and lead to greater reliance on public welfare programs. On the contrary, welfare utilization is actually lower in Right to Work states at 5.8 TANF recipients per thousand in 2013. That’s less than half the rate of 16.7 welfare recipients per thousand residents in forced-union states.
- The Anti-Union Argument. Union leaders often characterize Right to Work as a policy to harm unions, but the data shows otherwise. In the period from 2010-2013, Right to Work states collectively grew union membership by 57,000 workers, while forced-union states actually lost 248,000 union members.
- The Worker Training Argument. Opponents argue Right to Work will jeopardize training in the construction trades, but that has not been the experience in other states. In Wisconsin, skilled training is paid for by employers and is not dependent upon union dues. Moreover, Right to Work states have 28% more operating engineers employed per capita than forced-union states.
- The Free-Rider Argument. Union leaders claim Right to Work is unfair because the union is required to represent all employees, even if they do not pay dues. However, these “exclusive representation” agreements are not mandatory and unions are not required to negotiate these clauses into their contract.
Right to Work is Right for Wisconsin
By Scott Manley
Vice President of Government Relations
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
As a country built on the principles of liberty and individual freedom, it’s common sense that workers should have the right to choose whether to join a labor union and pay dues. But that’s not always the case in Wisconsin.
Right to Work (RTW) laws give employees freedom in the workplace by protecting them from being forced to pay dues to a labor union as a condition of their hiring or continued employment. Twenty-four states guarantee workers this freedom, and Wisconsin should become the twenty-fifth state if we want to remain economically competitive.
Beyond the free choice argument, there are compelling economic reasons why the Wisconsin Legislature should enact RTW.
For example, during the ten-year period from 2004-2013, RTW states grew jobs at an average rate of 5.3% according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than twice the rate of job growth in forced-union states (2.1%). More specifically, RTW states grew 3.6 million jobs during that timeframe, far exceeding the total of 1.5 million in states without worker freedom.
RTW states have also experienced higher wage growth. U.S. Department of Labor data from 2003-2013 show wages grew by 15.1% in RTW states, while wage growth lagged behind at 8.2% in forced-union states.
Although opponents argue that RTW results in lower wages, data suggests that workers in RTW states have more disposable income.
After adjusting for the differences in cost of living between states, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research reports that 2013 per capita disposable income was $38,915 in RTW states, compared to $36,959 in forced-union states. Their data suggests that dual income families in RTW states average nearly $4,000 more in disposable income than their counterparts in forced-union states.
RTW states often receive preferred status from businesses looking to invest in economic development projects. For example, Area Development Magazine’s 2012 Annual Corporate Survey found about 75% of businesses rated locating in a RTW state as “important” or “very important.” That’s consistent with site selection consultants who say states are eliminated from consideration early in the process in about half the projects because they lack a RTW law.
Enacting a RTW law in Wisconsin could open the door to new job creation projects much as it has in Indiana when they passed their law in 2012. The Hoosier state’s economic development agency has already attracted 107 companies that indicated RTW was a positive factor in their decision to consider Indiana. The result is more than 10,300 projected new jobs, and more than $3.4 billion in private sector investment.
Wisconsin must pass a RTW law to put our state on a level playing field for these types of job creation projects or we will continue to lose out.
Opponents frequently characterize RTW as a policy intended to place unions at an unfair disadvantage. However, the workers being forced to pay union dues against their will have a more compelling fairness argument.
In reality, the argument that RTW is anti-union is not supported by recent labor data. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show RTW states collectively added 57,000 union jobs between 2010 and 2013, while forced-union states actually lost 248,000 union jobs over the same period.
Recent data has shown RTW states creating more jobs, growing wages faster, and having more disposable income. It’s hard to imagine how any of those outcomes are bad for workers.
If Wisconsin is serious about improving our business climate and growing jobs, we need to enact Right to Work, and give employees the freedom to choose in the workplace.