Various categorizations of legal environment for collective bargaining, union coverage rates, and "right to work" status

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
State Favorability of legal environment for public sector bargaining, 1996 Favorability of legal environment for public sector bargaining, 2017 Favorability of legal environment for private sector bargaining, 2017 Union coverage rate, private sector Union coverage rate, public sector “Right to work” (1 = RTW; 0 = not RTW) Union coverage level, private sector
Alabama Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 6.0% 25.2% 1 93,586
Alaska Favorable Favorable Intermediate 10.3% 47.5% 0 22,582
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Alaska: The city of Anchorage passed a 2013 ordinance sharply restricting the scope of bargaining and eliminating public employee’s right to strike, though this law was subsequently overturned by voter referendum.
Arizona Intermediate Intermediate Unfavorable 2.7% 21.7% 1 64,502
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Arizona: A “right to work” state which cut pension benefits; abolished civil service; outlawed project labor agreements; and adopted a “paycheck protection” law, though this was vetoed by the governor.
Arkansas Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.1% 11.5% 1 40,394
California Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 9.9% 56.8% 0 1,327,964
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in California: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years.
Colorado Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 6.9% 29.0% 0 143,693
Connecticut Favorable Favorable Favorable 10.1% 70.8% 0 138,421
Delaware Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 8.1% 43.5% 0 28,534
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Delaware: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years.
Florida Favorable Intermediate Unfavorable 3.3% 27.6% 1 239,146
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Florida: A right-to-work state which since 2011 has passed laws cutting public employee pension benefits, undermining seniority and tenure rights for school teachers and funding the growth of non-union charter and voucher schools, and whose House of Representatives in 2017 adopted a bill that would automatically decertify any public sector union whose dues-paying membership falls below 50% of the bargaining unit.
Georgia Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 3.7% 13.1% 1 134,773
Hawaii Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 14.8% 47.3% 0 71,237
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Hawaii: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years
Idaho Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.0% 18.7% 1 23,839
Illinois Favorable Intermediate Intermediate 10.2% 52.6% 0 499,710
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Illinois: Democratic legislators adopted 2011 legislation restricting the scope of bargaining and the right to strike for Chicago school teachers.
Indiana Intermediate Unfavorable Unfavorable 8.1% 33.5% 1 212,840
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Indiana: Outlawed public sector collective bargaining; preempted local minimum wage increases; adopted “right to work” and eliminated prevailing wage rights.
Iowa Favorable Favorable Unfavorable 5.6% 33.8% 1 68,819
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Iowa: Exacted legislation in 2017 similar to Wisconsin’s Act 10 (note, our data only go through April 2017, so we are not including this change in the middle column, since that column should reflect state of the laws when the data were collected).
Kansas Intermediate Intermediate Unfavorable 6.5% 26.6% 1 68,577
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Kansas: Restricted the scope of bargaining for school teachers and funded non-union voucher schools; eliminated both prevailing wage rights and project labor agreements; and adopted an aggressive “paycheck protection” statute.
Kentucky Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 11.4% 23.8% 1 169,990
Louisiana Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 3.1% 16.9% 1 45,052
Maine Favorable Intermediate Intermediate 5.6% 60.0% 0 27,191
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Maine: Abolished collective bargaining rights for childcare workers and farmworkers, cut pension benefits and imposed a multi-year wage freeze for public employees.
Maryland Favorable Favorable Favorable 6.8% 33.1% 0 143,040
Massachusetts Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 6.3% 53.3% 0 176,949
Michigan Favorable Intermediate Unfavorable 11.3% 49.9% 1 415,432
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Michigan: Abolished fair-share in both the public and private sector, prohibited payroll deduction of union dues, cut healthcare and retiree benefits, outlawed project labor agreements, restricted teachers’ scope of bargaining, abolished collective bargaining rights for graduate researchers and prohibited cities and counties from adopting any labor standards more progressive than state law.
Minnesota Favorable Favorable Intermediate 9.2% 49.0% 0 200,736
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Minnesota: Legislature voted to freeze public employee pay and to restrict the scope of bargaining and eliminate the right to strike of school teachers, though both statutes were vetoed by the governor.
Mississippi Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 6.1% 14.2% 1 53,889
Missouri Intermediate Intermediate Unfavorable 7.6% 24.4% 1 177,092
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Missouri: Eliminated prevailing wage rights and adopted both a “right to work” and a “paycheck protection” law.
Montana Favorable Favorable Intermediate 7.5% 38.6% 0 24,829
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Montana: Cut pension benefits and whose legislators voted to abolish defined benefit pensions for school teachers, though this law was vetoed by the governor.
Nebraska Favorable Favorable Unfavorable 4.6% 36.2% 1 33,505
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Nebraska: A “right to work” state. In 2011 passed a law that changes the way contract disputes are settled under the state’s labor commission, in ways that favor the employer.  So that was a downgrading of public sector collective bargaining rights, but relatively mild compared to places like Wisconsin.
Nevada Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 10.4% 36.3% 1 111,305
New Hampshire Favorable Intermediate Unfavorable 4.3% 54.0% 0 24,483
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in New Hampshire: Took away the right to card-check recognition for public employees, abolished the state minimum wage, undermined teacher seniority and tenure protections, and both legislative chambers adopted a 2011 “right to work” law, though this was ultimately vetoed by the governor.
New Jersey Favorable Intermediate Unfavorable 8.3% 59.5% 0 273,716
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in New Jersey: Cut pension benefits, restricted the scope of arbitration for uniformed services, undermined teachers’ tenure and seniority protections, and instituted a four-year ban on healthcare bargaining.
New Mexico Favorable Favorable Favorable 3.4% 22.9% 0 20,173
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in New Mexico:
New York Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 16.6% 70.4% 0 1,140,638
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in New York: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years.
North Carolina Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 2.6% 14.2% 1 94,559
North Dakota Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.3% 18.3% 1 12,826
Ohio Favorable Favorable Unfavorable 8.8% 47.4% 0 383,424
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Ohio: Passed an Act 10-copycat bill in 2011, SB5.  SB5 was subsequently overturned by referendum, but its adoption by the state’s legislature and Governor indicate a hostile environment for labor law reform.
Oklahoma Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 3.7% 18.9% 1 43,786
Oregon Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 9.9% 57.3% 0 147,066
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Oregon: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years.
Pennsylvania Favorable Intermediate Unfavorable 7.9% 54.5% 0 396,970
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Pennsylvania: Abolished prevailing wage rights on projects under $100,000 and created an “emergency fiscal manager” with the authority to void union contracts in the city of Harrisburg
Rhode Island Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 9.3% 67.1% 0 39,214
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Rhode Island: Democrats have controlled all three branches of government for at least the past four years.
South Carolina Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 2.1% 8.6% 1 35,372
South Dakota Favorable Favorable Unfavorable 3.6% 24.3% 1 11,507
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in South Dakota: A “right to work” state which prohibited project labor agreements, created a new youth subminimum wage and entirely exempted its summer tourism industry from the state minimum wage, and abolished teacher tenure, though this last measure was subsequently overturned by voter referendum.
Tennessee Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.0% 18.8% 1 92,148
Texas Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 3.2% 19.0% 1 317,703
Utah Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 3.0% 20.2% 1 34,186
Vermont Favorable Favorable Favorable 6.0% 52.3% 0 14,908
Virginia Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.0% 16.7% 1 119,994
Washington Favorable Favorable Favorable and Actionable 11.7% 58.9% 0 303,980
West Virginia Intermediate Intermediate Unfavorable 9.1% 27.9% 1 50,549
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in West Virginia: Prohibited Project Labor Agreements and adopted a “right to work” law.
Wisconsin Favorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 6.5% 27.7% 1 153,273
Explanation of difference between 1996 and 2017 in Wisconsin: With the passage of Act 10 in 2011, has become one of the single bleakest legal environments for public employee unions.
Wyoming Unfavorable Unfavorable Unfavorable 4.5% 12.3% 1 8,343

Source: Freeman (2006) "Will Labor Fare Better Under State Labor Relations Law?" Based on 1996 update by Kim Rueben of the NBER Valletta-Freeman state public sector labor law data set (http://www.nber.org/publaw/)

View the underlying data on epi.org.