Video: President Obama Says “Right to Work” Laws Really Mean “Right To Work For Less Money”


    As you know, Virginia is a so-called “right-to-work” state, or as Leslie Byrne calls it the “right-to-be-poor.” For whatever reason, and it’s difficult for me to comprehend why, there are Democrats who actually support these godawful laws, which among other things “restrict freedom of association by prohibiting workers and employers from agreeing to contracts that include fair share fees, and so create a free rider problem…[and also] lead to lower wages and worse safety and health conditions for workers.”

    How bad are these laws? A 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that: 1) “Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states”; 2) “The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) is 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW states compared with non-RTW states” and 3) “The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states.”

    In sum, President Obama is absolutely correct that so-called “right-to-work” laws really mean the “right to make less money” for employees. Of course, the corporations make out quite nicely, which is why they spend so much money lobbying and pushing for states to enact these laws. That should tell you all you need to know.

    P.S. For more information on the negative impact of these Orwellian “right-to-work” laws, see What “Right to Work” Would Mean for Michigan (e.g., “while promoting free association and individual liberty sound noble, the use of such concepts to advance RTW legislation belie a less lofty motive: to undermine the economic and political power of wage-earners”)

    • KT

      Democrats who support right-to-work laws do so because they believe no employee should be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment.  Simple.  If the union has a product that is worth buying, then let them convince the employees to buy it rather than  mandating the firing of all employees who do not make the required dues payments.  

      If it’s true that unions are the cause of higher wages and benefits, I am sure they will have no problem obtaining everyone’s support!  Of course, if these differences are mitigated by cost of living differences and/or are not caused by unions, then perhaps employees will choose not to pay union dues.  The point is, it should be their choice, not the union’s or the employer’s.  

    • Jim B

      There are the free loaders that think they shouldn’t have to pay dues to obtain benefits and are too dumb to realize that once right to work goes in effect they all will lose. The reason we in Va have pretty good wages is most people in Northern Va work for the federal govt or indirectly.

      People in Northern states with unions that work for auto companies can afford to buy the cars they make. How about a worker in Alabama making a Mercedes?

    • See here:

      Extremist groups, right-wing politicians and their corporate backers want to weaken the power of workers and their unions through so-called "right to work" laws. Their efforts are a partisan political ploy that undermines the basic rights of workers. By making unions weaker, these laws lower wages and living standards for all workers in the state. By many measures, the quality of life is worse in states with "right to work" laws. Wages are lower, poverty and lack of insurance are higher, education is weaker-even infant mortality and the likelihood of being killed on the job are higher.

      States with "Right to Work" Laws Have:

      Lower Wages and Incomes

      • The average worker in states with "right to work" laws makes $1,540 a year less when all other factors are removed than workers in other states.1
      • Median household income in states with these laws is $6,437 less than in other states ($46,402 vs. $52,839).2
      • In states with "right to work" laws, 26.7 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 19.5 percent of jobs in other states.3

      Less Job-Based Health Insurance Coverage

      • People in states with "right to work" laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with 13.1 percent overall; among children, it’s 10.8 percent vs. 7.5 percent).4
      • They’re less likely to have job-based health insurance than people in other states (56.2 percent, compared with 60.1 percent).5
      • Only 50.7 percent of employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 55.2 percent in other states. That difference is even more significant among small employers (with fewer than 50 workers)-only 34.4 percent of them offer workers health insurance, compared with 41.7 percent of small employers in other states.6

      Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates

      • Poverty rates are higher in states with "right to work" laws (15.3 percent overall and 21.5 percent for children), compared with poverty rates of 13.1 percent overall and 18.1 percent for children in states without these laws.7
      • The infant mortality rate is 15 percent higher in states with these laws.8

      Less Investment in Education

      • States with "right to work" laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states, and students are less likely to be performing at their appropriate grade level in math and reading.9

      Higher Rates of Death on the Job

      • The rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with these laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.10

      1 Economic Policy Institute.

      2 U.S. Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State.

      3 CFED, Asset and Opportunity Scorecard.

      4 Kaiser Family Foundation

      5 Ibid.

      6 Ibid.

      7 Census Bureau, POV46: Poverty Status by State: 2010, related children under 18Table 19. Percent of Persons in Poverty, by State: 2008, 2009 and 2010.

      Kaiser Family Foundation.

      9 National Education Association, Rankings & Estimates-Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012, December 2011; CFED, Asset & Opportunity Scorecard.
      10 AFL-CIO, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, April 2012.