There’s lots to be optimistic about in 2017 with Right to Work laws near the top of the list. This from the WSJ:
The New Year will bring change in the states as well as Washington, D.C., and that includes the likely expansion of right-to-work laws to help the economic competitiveness of Missouri, Kentucky and even New Hampshire.
Twenty-six states currently give workers the right not to join a union or pay fees as a condition of their employment. While the laws aren’t the only drivers of economic health, many businesses won’t consider operating or expanding in states that don’t have them.
In Missouri, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon barely defeated GOP legislative attempts to pass right to work in 2015, and in November voters elected Republican Eric Greitens, who campaigned on right to work. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Missouri was 48th in economic growth in real GDP between 1997 and 2015. Mr. Greitens’s campaign reminded voters that in 2015 the average per capita income in right-to-work states was higher than it was in Missouri.
Mr. Greitens, a former Democrat, is expected to sign the right-to-work law vetoed by Mr. Nixon. Unions have already begun collecting signatures to put a repeal measure on the ballot for the 2018 election.
Kentucky is the only southern or border state that isn’t right to work, but that should change now that Republicans have won control of the legislature for the first time since 1920. Unable to pass the measure statewide due to Democratic opposition, Kentucky let counties pass right-to-work laws. The local law survived a union challenge at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a similar plan is working its way through legal challenges in union-strangled Illinois.
New Hampshire is also likely to move on right to work next year as GOP Governor-elect Chris Sununu will join a Republican-dominated legislature. Mr. Sununu told the New Hampshire Union leader that he was open to right to work and was “fairly” confident that lawmakers would pass it.
Right to work is an example of how the interests of workers and unions divide. Unions want to coerce workers into joining unions and paying dues even if this means there will be fewer jobs available. Workers want to be free to join a union, or not, and the best guarantee of higher pay is a buoyant job market that comes from more business investment and labor flexibility. Unions wouldn’t need to worry so much about right to work if they did more to provide value for workers.
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