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Idea of the Day: ‘Right-to-Work’ Laws Harm Unions and the Economy

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The passage of so-called right-to-work legislation in Michigan fails to take into consideration the real impact unions have on both states’ and the nation’s economies and on middle-class Americans. “Right-to-work” laws weaken unions by making them provide services to union and nonunion members alike, without making all beneficiaries pay their fair share. By severely weakening unions, which are vital to strengthening the middle class and improving the economy, “right-to-work” laws have broad negative consequences.

Here are the key facts you need to know about unions’ value for the economy and the middle class.

  • Unionization increases income—not just for union workers but also for the entire middle class.
  • In non-“right-to-work” states, workers are more likely to receive employer-provided health insurance and pensions.
  • Unions improve workplace policies and have beneficial policy effects more broadly.
  • Unions balance structures of power in the workplace, resulting in greater efficiency.
  • “Right-to-work” legislation fails to grow state economies.
  • Unions strengthen businesses and the economically vital middle class by giving workers a voice in both the workplace and our democracy.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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