Center for American Progress

‘Right-to-Work’ Laws Harm Unions and the Economy

‘Right-to-Work’ Laws Harm Unions and the Economy

Unions—not the "right-to-work" laws that undermine them—are vital to strengthening the middle class 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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