What Is a ‘Right to Work’ Law, Anyway?

By January 26, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports that Democrats failed to block a right to work bill from coming to a vote in Indiana. What does this mean?
Read the full WSJ story here.

By Jennifer Smith

it’s simple, really. Employees in states with right-to-work laws can’t be forced to join a union or pay union dues in order to retain their jobs.
Indiana—where WSJ reports that House Democrats failed to block the bill from coming to a vote–would be the 23rd state to pass such a law. It is one of the first states to do in an industrialized area that traditionally had a large, unionized workforce. We’ve included a handy map from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a non-profit that supports such laws.
Organized labor groups such as the AFL-CIO oppose such laws, saying they depress wages and erode working conditions. They argue that all workers at union shops benefit from contracts negotiated by the union on behalf of its members, and that right-to-work laws give a “free ride” to workers who don’t contribute.
Backers of these laws say they allow workers to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support a union. In Indiana, supporters say the bill will lure more businesses there. Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has advocated a National Right to Work Law that would outlaw union-only shops.
Federal labor law says that employers and unions can agree to require that workers be members of the unions to hold a job—what’s known as a “closed shop.” But states have the ability to override that if they pass laws specifically banning such contracts. Some industries are exempt: federally regulated railway or airline industries, and employees of private contractors on some federal properties.
Read the rest of the story here.