Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly believe that workers should not be forced to pay union dues. Three new states have recently passed right-to-work laws that make paying union dues voluntary. Several more states are considering doing the same. Unions and their allies argue that such laws lower wages. They contend the economic benefits of greater union membership justify forcing workers to pay union dues.
The Heritage Foundation has replicated this research. In a new study, Heritage reports that these claims rely on only partly controlling for cost of living differences between states. This matters because right-to-work states have disproportionately lower costs of living. Fully accounting for living costs shows that workers in right-to-work states have the same purchasing power as workers in states with compulsory dues. They also have one percentage point lower unemployment rates. Forcing workers to pay union dues holds workers back.
Join as as Heritage research fellow James Sherk presents this new research, along with two panelists from newly right-to-work states who will discuss how voluntary union dues have affected their states. State Sen. Chris Kapenga, a leading advocate of Wisconsin’s new right-to-work law, will explain why he believed right-to-work made sense for Wisconsin and the impact it has had on the Badger State so far. Vincent Vernuccio, Director of Labor Policy for the Mackinac Center, will discuss how, after two years, Michigan’s right-to-work law has affected Michigan employees and employers.
More About the Speakers
Wisconsin State Senator
Director of Labor Policy, The Mackinac Center
Research Fellow, Labor Economics