Teamsters Joint Council 42
981 Corporate Center Dr. Ste. 200
Pomona, CA 91768
P: (626) 974-4212
F: (626) 974-4241
Right to Work for LESS
In the last five years, the RTW movement has picked up considerable momentum as Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky and most recently Missouri have enacted RTW legislation. These five states join twenty-three other states that have enacted legislation that in effect hamstrings organized labor’s ability to bargain on behalf of workers.
This legislation is not just dangerous for unions and their members. Contrary to the economic boon promised by the RTW proselytizers, enacting RTW decreases wages for both union and non-union workers alike and jeopardizes worker protections.
According to AFC-CIO President Richard Trumka, "Numbers don’t lie. Workers in states with right to work laws have wages that are 12 percent lower. That’s because unions raise wages for all workers, not just our members." And President Trumka is right, with organized labor at the table, workers across the board make more money.
Workers in non-RTW states like California, are over two times more likely to be a member of a union. On average, they make an hourly wage 15 percent higher than their peers in a RTW state, according to a report issued by the Economic Policy Group in 2015 that tracked wages from 2010-2012. Once all possible variations are taken into consideration, this number gets adjusted to a conservative 3.1 percent across the board once all of demographic differences are accounted for, but this equates to a meaningful difference in workers wages in RTW versus non-RTW states. Even looking at this through a conservative lense, over the course of an average working family’s lifetime could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The wage difference can be explained in three different ways. The first being that the average wage of a union worker is higher then non-union because of the ability of organized labor to bargain on behalf of its membership. Second, the jobs that the RTW proselytizers claim are created by RTW, tend to be low wage jobs. And third, and possibly most important, by maintaining a formidable union presence, as evidenced by a high union density, organized labor is at the policy table affecting the rights of every worker within the given jurisdiction. Meaning, in states that have RTW, union density is much lower. Therefore, organized labor is less powerful and wields much less influence, or is even silenced in the various political bodies. This dilution of power translates to lower wages and an influx of low wage jobs, as well as less worker protections for both union and non-union workers. Beyond the low wages, states that have enacted RTW legislation have significantly less people with health insurance coverage and significantly higher rates of work place fatalities.
By seizing the tag line "right to work" the ultra conservatives imply that this dangerous legislation grants workers rights that they don’t already have. This is a trap. The alleged rights that this legislation claims to confer are rights that we can all live without, the right to work for less and without representation.