In the News

‘Freedom’ and other right-to-work lies

Karla Walter writes that policymakers should focus on rebuilding the middle class by raising state laws above and beyond federal standards, not by racing to the bottom with right-to-work policies.

Wisconsin’s new right-to-work law is taking the state’s working families in the wrong direction: The typical worker in a right-to-work state makes about $1,560 less per year than she would in a state without such a law. The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance is 2.6 percentage points lower in right-to-work states. The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is 4.8 percentage points lower in right-to-work states.

Even workplace safety is affected, research shows. The rate of worker fatalities in construction is 34% higher in right-to-work states than in non-right-to-work states. In sum, workers, their families and states’ economies fare worse in right-to-work states. For all these reasons, it is not surprising that a majority of Americans support labor unions, according to a new Gallup poll.

Yet Wisconsin, under the leadership of Gov. Scott Walker, became the latest state to adopt such a law last spring. While it is too early to measure the effects of right-to-work on the state, the new law promises to harm the already hurting middle class.

The above excerpt was originally published in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Click here to view the full article.

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Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy