A new study shows that so called right to work (RTW) laws would hurt the economy in Wisconsin by lowering wages. In the report, “Right to Work” Is the Wrong Answer for Wisconsin’s Economy, published by the Economic Policy Institute, associate professor at the University of Oregon Gordon Lafer explains that right to work laws do not increase employment.
“The point of so-called `right to work’ rules is to drive down wages for both union and nonunion workers,” Lafer said. “These laws would hurt the middle class.”
Key points in “Right to Work” is the Wrong Answer for Wisconsin’s Economy include:
- Right to work is associated with lower wages and benefits for both union and nonunion workers. In a RTW state, the average worker makes 3.2% less than a similar worker in a non-RTW state.
- Through cutting wages, RTW may undermine Wisconsin’s small businesses, which depend on the state’s residents having wages to spend.
- Wisconsin significantly outperforms the states with RTW laws.
“Right to work states like Mississippi should be trying to become more like Wisconsin, instead of Wisconsin trying to become more like Mississippi or other RTW states,” Lafer said.
Lafer notes that many of the arguments made by advocates of so-called right to work ignore that under federal law it is already illegal to force anyone to be a member of a union, and it is already illegal to force workers to pay even a penny to political causes.
“In the 1970s or 1980s, companies may have left the Upper Midwest for cheaper labor in the South or Southwest,” Lafer said. “But globalization has fundamentally changed our economy. Today, a company that is primarily interested in cheap labor is going to China or Mexico, not to South Carolina or Arizona.”