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The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that wages and benefits are actually lower in states with anti-worker so-called Right to Work laws on the books. Right to Work (RTW) legislation which undercut unions by allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay dues—translates to $1,558 less a year in earnings for a typical full-time worker. Wages in RTW states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states. Workers in RTW states are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance or pension coverage.
According to EPI senior economist Elise Gould and researchassistant Will Kimball: “It’s abundantly clear that Right to Work laws are negatively correlated with workers’ wages. At their core, RTW laws seek to hamstring unions’ ability to help employees bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions,” explain Gould and Kimball. “Given that unionization raises wages both for individual union members as well as for nonunion workers in unionized sectors, it is not surprising that research shows that both union and nonunion workers in RTW states have lower wages and fewer benefits, on average, than comparable workers in other states.”
Right to Work laws are currently in place in 25 states, including Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a controversial RTW bill in early March—saying it was “the right thing to do for job creators and employees alike.” Lawmakers in Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, and West Virginia are considering similar legislation.
Kimball said American workers should be trying to strengthen unions. “Collective bargaining is a clear way to raise wages, and Right to Work laws undercut it.”
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