Right-to-Work supporters are coming after you by trying to sell you a message that they are “protecting” you from being “forced” to join a union.

Don’t buy it. Right-to-Work supporters don’t want to protect you; they want to take away your rights, benefits and freedom to join together in union.

The only people benefiting from right-to-work are corporate CEOs and other wealthy people who think your pay, benefits and pensions are too generous.

Right-to-Work sounds like a worker-friendly term, but it actually has little to do with workers or our rights. In fact, right-to-work not only erodes our freedom to join together in union, but harms the ability of all working people to sustain their families.

The real purpose of right-to-work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

Supporters of right to work laws claim they boost economic growth, but statistics tell a different story.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people in right-to-work states make an average of 12.1 percent less in wages annually than those in states without right-to-work laws. In right-to-work states, poverty rates stand at 15.3 percent overall (and 21.4 percent for children). In other states, poverty rates total 12.8 percent overall (and 18 percent for children). (U.S. Census Bureau)

While right-to-work laws have existed for more than 70 years, they have become more widespread recently due to the political and economic climate.

Right-to-work laws are on the books in 28 states and supporters of right-to-work continue their move to make it the law of the land.

These people include the wealthy backers of the plaintiffs’ case in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear early next year. The case will review the constitutionality of agency, or “fair share,” fees. If the court decides in favor of the plaintiffs and declare fair share fees unconstitutional, it will be “right-to-work” for public employees in the United States.

No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court decides in this case, CSEA is committed to continuing to have conversations about what it means to stand together.

And despite the push by our opponents to grow right-to-work, working people still support the freedom to join together in union. According to the Pew Research Center, about 60 percent of adults have a favorable view of labor unions.

In Iowa, public employees, including those represented by AFSCME, overwhelmingly voted to continue to be represented by their unions, despite a new state collective bargaining law that largely stripped workers of their union rights.

When working people can sustain themselves and their families, our local economies grow stronger. A major factor in lifting working people has been unions.

And that is why we never quit.

— Janice Gavin

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About Author

Janice Gavin

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications, Essentially Women, Retiree News and Canary. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 20 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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