Unions have a significant and positive effect on the wages and benefits of union and nonunion workers alike. Unionized workers are able to bargain for better wages, benefits, and work conditions than they would otherwise receive if negotiating individually. The effect on the average worker—unionized or not—of working in a right-to-work state is to earn approximately $1,500 less per year than a similar worker in a state without such a law.
But it doesn’t just stop with pay. Workers in right-to-work states also see reduced benefits like health care.
If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide.
Right-to-work laws harm the long-term prospects of union representation. That’s because right-to-work laws make it possible for workers to freeload, that is, get the benefits of union representation without paying for it.
The genius of the “right-to-work” laws is that it makes it seem unusual that you have to agree to follow the terms of the contract that your prospective employers has negotiated with his employees. In fact, what’s unusual is that “right-to-work” laws allow you to opt-out of one part of that contract — the part that your fellow employees have negotiated. You still have to follow all the parts your employer added.
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