On Thursday, Senate Bill 11, AN ACT prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union, will be voted on by the full senate. The bill was passed by 3-2 out of committee last week. There is a lot of information circulating about Right to Work and the biggest opponents against it are unions (from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and around the country). It’s understandable that they don’t want to lose the ability to be able to force workers to pay an agency fee even if they don’t want any part of the union. Unfortunately, the unions are also spreading propaganda and not being truthful about Right to Work (RTW).
Political Buzz decided to research some of the claims being made by unions so that Granite Staters can get the facts. You cannot have an honest discussion about policy or legislation without the facts. All of the claims about RTW from the unions came from the New Hampshire AFL-CIO union page. They have a “Question and Answer” sheet about RTW that will be debunked below.
Q: What is a “right to work” (RTW) law?
A: Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing. These laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. They tilt the balance even more toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families.
That’s because RTW laws create a loophole in our labor laws that allows workers who decide not to be a part of a union to fully benefit from union representation—including higher wages, benefits, training, safety and protection from unfair discipline—without having to pay a single penny for it. That’s unfair to their co-workers who play by the rules and pay their fair share. And it weakens all workers’ ability to stand up for themselves and each other.
RTW laws don’t do anything to change the current rules or laws under which employers can hire or fire workers OTHER than not forcing workers to pay an “Agency Fee” to a union if the worker doesn’t want to be part of the union. RTW does not create a loophole for workers. It simply doesn’t allow employers to forcibly take fees from workers who don’t want to be part of the union. Workers are free to choose whether or not they want to be a member of the union. Unions will still be able to collectively bargain contracts. RTW doesn’t end that ability.
Unions also won’t be able to demand that employers act as their “collection agency” and will have to collect dues from workers themselves. If a union is good, they have nothing to be afraid of because workers will still choose to be members of that union. If RTW is passed, workers finally have a choice.
Q: How would this law impact my family?
A: An RTW law would put our families’ safety at risk. It would make it harder for nurses to negotiate for safe staffing levels, and limit the ability of emergency responders, police officers and firefighters to negotiate for things to keep us all safe—like faster response times and lifesaving emergency equipment. This proposal limits the rights of our state’s everyday heroes, silences the professional voices of teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters, and makes it harder for them to protect and serve.
RTW doesn’t end collective bargaining. It doesn’t end safety standards, which are federal law, and it doesn’t interfere with the safety of First Responders. The union is intentionally lying about this. RTW doesn’t make it harder for anyone to do their job safely, it simply gives workers a choice about paying for union representation.
Q: Will an RTW law benefit workers in our state?
A: No. Union members and workers without unions all will take an economic hit. Workers in states with RTW laws have a consistently lower quality of life than in other states—lower wages, higher poverty, less access to health care and poorer education for children, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau. Why should our state adopt a losing strategy that lowers the standard of living for workers and their families?
RTW states have faster job growth
and faster income growth.
RTW doesn’t end employer-based health insurance; access to healthcare or public education. The federal government data proves the unions wrong.
On average, workers in states with RTW laws earn $6,109 (12.1%) a year less than workers in other states ($44,401, compared with $50,511).
Unions are intentionally lying about these numbers, egregiously so. They aren’t even using the claims of a union-backed organization that says the differential is only 3%. The cost of living in Forced Union states like New Hampshire is higher than in RTW states. That is simply a fact. The cost of living must be figured into any minute pay differential that might exist because workers have more income to spend if the cost of living is less. As you can see from the graph below, the difference is statistically inconsequential when all factors are honestly used.
Less Investment in Education
States with RTW laws spend 32.5% less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states.
The AFL-CIO is a bit off on this number but they are indeed correct that RTW states spend less on education than Forced Union states. Unfortunately this number means nothing unless you tie a value to it like “what are they getting” for that extra spending. Political Buzz already researched this information and discovered that RTW states indeed spend less on education but are getting more value for their students. The test score differential between RTW states and Forced Union states who spend 28% more is .0009%. Clearly that’s not a bargain or value for students OR taxpayers who are footing the bill.
Higher Workplace Fatality Rates
The rate of workplace deaths is 49% higher in states with RTW laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This is simply and utterly untrue. It’s unclear where the AFL-CIO is getting their numbers from but using the same Bureau of Labor Statistic numbers, others have found a much, much different truth about fatalities in the workplace and they are LESS in RTW states:
Not only have new right-to-work states reported declining workplace injury rates, in many cases right-to-work states are statistically safer than forced unionization states.
Unions Improve Living Standards. Right to Work Laws Don’t.
Overall, union members earn 26.3% ($204) more per week than nonunion workers. Hispanic union members earn 47.1% ($276) more each week than nonunion Hispanics and African Americans earn 29.7% ($183) more each week if they are union members.
Some 79% of union workers participate in job-provided health insurance, compared with 49% of nonunion workers. And 75% of union workers participate in guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans, compared with just 15% of nonunion workers.
The claim that union members earn more has already been debunked above. It’s interesting that unions talk about minorities when it is unions who push increasing the minimum wage which is one of the most racist laws on the books. Unions, due to their racism, originally came up with minimum wage laws to hurt minority workers. The laws work the same to this day.
Over 86% of Americans aren’t union members nor are they forced to BE union members but they are still tied to employer-based health insurance. This backwards benefit was put into place during the years of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and has actually hurt Americans ever since.
Q. Specifically, why is an RTW law unfair?
A: Federal law requires unions to represent all workers and bargain a contract that benefits all workers, whether or not they actually become members of the union. That means that if a worker who is represented by a union but doesn’t pay dues is fired illegally, the union must use its time and resources to defend the worker the same as if he was a member, even if that requires going through a costly, time-consuming lawsuit. Because everyone benefits, everyone should pay their fair share.
Right now, private businesses and employees can freely negotiate to make sure everyone who benefits from a union contract pays their fair share of the costs of obtaining and protecting those benefits. But an RTW law would allow the government to interfere unfairly in the freedoms of private businesses and employees to negotiate together.
Federal law does not require unions to represent all workers. That is untrue. It only requires unions to represent all workers with “Exclusionary Contracts.” These are contracts that unions choose to make in which they must represent all workers, regardless if a worker wants to join the union or not. In New Hampshire, public sector unions are required to have these types of contracts and under New Hampshire law anyone covered under these types of contracts are forced to pay “Agency Fees” whether they want union representation or not.
The government already interferes with private business by forcing private business to recognize and negotiate a union if a majority of workers elect to have a union. This means that 52 out of 100 workers in a business can decide they want a union and the other 48 have no choice. It is a popular vote and currently, the 48 who don’t want the union are forced to pay for the union despite their choice not to have one.
Unions like this “Forced Unionization” because they don’t have to be a good union for their members. Once the union is in a business or the public sector, it is extremely difficult to de-certify them. Workers who voted to have a union over 50 years ago sealed the fate for workers today. Unless RTW is passed, workers will still be without worker freedom and be subject to worker decisions from decades ago.
Q: Isn’t an RTW law important to improving our state’s economy?
A: No—we need to bolster our economy, but adopting an RTW law is the wrong answer and would take us in the wrong direction. Our state legislature should focus on strengthening our economy and making sure it works for all state residents. We need to create more good jobs. We need to stop giving tax dollars to companies that ship work overseas. We need to close unfair corporate tax loopholes and stop employer fraud that deprives workers of rights and allows corporations to cheat on their taxes. But none of that will happen if corporate special interests pass this extreme bill—because it tilts the balance of power even more toward big corporations, at the expense of hardworking, middle-class families.
RTW doesn’t tilt the power in any direction other than workers. Unions don’t like RTW because they have to work hard for members and workers have an actual choice. When workers don’t have a choice, unions can be terrible and no one will actually do anything about it. RTW is literally only about worker freedom.
Unions are all about choice when it comes to other left wing issues but they aren’t about choice when it comes to worker freedom. As proven above, RTW states enjoy faster income growth and faster job growth. One thing unions won’t tell you is that RTW states even have faster union membership growth than Forced Union states like New Hampshire. In RTW states, it seems unions are better for their members than in Forced Union states like New Hampshire.
Another fact that the AFL-CIO conveniently leaves out is that a majority of Granite Staters and Americans across the country actually want workers to have a choice. Americans support unions but more importantly, they support workers having the choice whether or not to join a union or have to pay for something they don’t want.
Supporting RTW isn’t anti-union, it is supporting worker freedom. Why would anyone not want worker freedom, especially in the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire? The unions’ claims have all been debunked above. They use propaganda and untruths to get unknowing Granite Staters to support them.
Why? Unions in Forced Union states like New Hampshire don’t have to put much effort into being a good organization for their members. They can simply take the fees that are forcibly collected for them and move along. Unfortunately, workers in the Granite State don’t have a choice unless Right to Work for worker freedom finally passes. Until then, unions will continue to be untruthful because telling the truth proves that RTW is better for all workers in New Hampshire.