By Adam Norton, VSEA Strategic Analyst
What is Right to Work?
- A “right to work” law is a state law that stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement – also known as a union security clause – that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them.
- Right to Work laws mandate unions to represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not. In other words, “Right to Work” laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership.
The History of Right to Work
- Right-To-Work Laws were introduced by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.
- Taft-Hartley amended the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to allow states legislate “open shops” while continuing to mandate unions provide representation to all employees, among other anti-union measures.
Right To Work in Other States
Affect on Union Power
- Right-To-Work Laws provide a disincentive to becoming a union member.
- “Free Riders” receive the benefits of collective bargaining without paying any of the cost.
- Right-To-Work Laws reduce union membership by 20%.
Affect on Negotiations
- Lower membership translates to less power at the negotiating table.
- Less resources available for bargaining preparation, research and organizing support.
- Higher workloads for union representatives; less time dedicated to bargaining units and higher turnover. Increased reliance on stewards.
- Comparable employees in states with right to work laws makes $1558-$5,971 less annually than their counterparts in Non-RTW states.
- Median household income in states with RTW laws is $6,568 (11.8 percent) less than in other states ($49,220 vs. $55,788).
- Wage Disparity is even higher for women and people of color.
Affect on Employee Benefits
- Employees in states with Right-to Work Laws are more likely to have high-deductible health care plan and higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Employees in states with Right-to-Work laws are more likely to pay a higher share of their health insurance premiums.
- Employees in states with Right-To-Work Laws are more less likely to have defined benefit retirement plans.
Who’s Behind Right to Work?
- The National Right-To-Work Committee and National Right-To Work Legal Defense Fund.
- Funded By: John Birch Society, Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners, State Policy Network (Ethan Allen Institute), Walton Family Foundation, Coors Family’s Castle Rock Foundation, CATO Institute.
- Also support restricting public-sector collective bargaining and “Pay Check Protection” Acts.
Who’s Behind RTW in Vermont?
- Representative Vicki Strong (R-Albany) and Representative Doug Gage (R-Rutland) introduced Right-To-Work legislation in 2014.
- Phil Scott supported the legislation: “I applaud the efforts of legislators, who understand that improving Vermont’s economy is one of the most important, if not the most important thing we must address in order to keep Vermont competitive on a regional and global scale”.
How Do We Fight Back?
- Political Engagement- Donate time or money to candidates who support organized labor.
- Increase the number of Stewards and enhance their abilities to defend their contract.
- Recruit your colleagues to join VSEA.
- Recruit colleagues to join VSEA committees, VSEA Council, and/or Bargaining Teams.
Do you have questions about this page? Contact VSEA’s Strategic Analyst Adam Norton via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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