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  • Commentary posted April 24, 2015 by James Sherk Labor Reforms Sweep the Midwest

    Labor unions have traditionally been the 800-pound gorilla of special-interest groups. They have secured handouts and subsidies that other organizations’ lobbyists could only dream about. But that may be changing. This year a raft of Midwestern states have scaled back some of organized labor’s special privileges. States are starting to treat unions no differently from…

  • Testimony posted April 22, 2015 by James Sherk How Collective Bargaining Affects Government Compensation and Total Spending

    Testimony before Committee on Government Affairs Nevada Assembly April 7, 2015 James Sherk Research Fellow in Labor Economics The Heritage Foundation Chairman Ellison and Members of the Government Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is James Sherk. I am a Research Fellow in Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in…

  • Commentary posted April 14, 2015 by James Sherk The Labor Story the Media Is Missing: Local Right-to-Work Laws Are Spreading

    Last month Wisconsin made national headlines by becoming the 25th right-to-work state. But there’s another equally significant development in workers’ rights that has largely escaped media attention: the rapid flowering of local right-to-work laws in Kentucky. As of December 1, 2014, no local governments anywhere in the U.S. prohibited forced union dues. Now a dozen…

  • Commentary posted March 30, 2015 by James Sherk Choice provided by right-to-work will help Wisconsin's union members

    Many wonder how right-to-work laws will affect Wisconsin. To see how, consider another question: Do monopolies help or hurt customers? Until now, unions have had a monopoly in many Wisconsin workplaces. They didn't have to persuade workers to purchase their services; they could force them to. Anyone who didn't pay dues — averaging about $700 a year — lost his or her…

  • Commentary posted March 11, 2015 by James Sherk Walker Scores another Win for Wisconsin Workers

    Wisconsin governor Scott Walker made history today: His signature made Wisconsin a right-to-work state. This marks symbolic and substantive milestones. Symbolically, half the country now guarantees voluntary union dues. Substantively, Walker has helped demonstrate that right-to-work is a political asset, not a liability. Until today, unions could force workers to pay…

  • Testimony posted March 3, 2015 by James Sherk How Unions and Right-to-Work Laws Affect the Economy

    Testimony before Committee on Labor and Government Reform Wisconsin Senate February 24, 2015 James Sherk Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics The Heritage Foundation Chairman Nass, Vice-Chairman Wanggaard, and members of the Committee on Labor and Government Reform, thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is James Sherk. I am a Senior Policy Analyst in…

  • Commentary posted February 3, 2015 by James Sherk Bruce Rauner Is Trying Kentucky’s Approach to Right-to-Work: Do It Locally

    Newly elected Illinois governor Bruce Rauner is already trying to shake up his state: He just proposed local right-to-work laws, albeit at the local rather than state level. As the Associated Press reports: "The states that are already growing don’t force unionization into their economy," Rauner told an audience at Richland Community College in Decatur, a city he said…

  • Backgrounder posted January 26, 2015 by James Sherk Unions Charge Higher Dues and Pay Their Officers Larger Salaries in Non–Right-to-Work States

    Businesses with monopolies charge higher prices and operate less efficiently than they would facing competition. Labor unions operate no differently. Unions charge workers more and spend their money less carefully in states where they can compel workers to purchase their services. Union financial reports reveal that they charge workers roughly 10 percent higher dues and…

  • Commentary posted January 13, 2015 by James Sherk Five Ways The Washington Post Got Middle Class Woes Wrong

    The Washington Post has recently published a series of articles arguing “America’s middle class is lost,” citing problems that go far beyond the recent recession. Take the accompanying graphic, which shows the year median income peaked in each U.S. county. In most, that happened in 1999 or earlier. The Post argues that over the past 25 years “the typical family’s income…

  • Commentary posted January 8, 2015 by James Sherk Liberal policies suppress wages: Opposing view

    Americans of all income levels would benefit from faster economic growth that raises wages. Unfortunately, wages are being held back by the very policies supported by those criticizing slow wage growth. Liberals across the country supported the misnamed Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The law's mandates have made health coverage more expensive for both individuals…

  • Commentary posted January 6, 2015 by James Sherk And Then There Were Three: Kentucky Counties May Have Found the Secret to Right-to-Work Success

    A major economics story for conservatives slipped under the radar screen as Americans celebrated the New Year: Two more Kentucky counties passed local right-to-work laws. On December 30, Fulton and Simpson counties approved right-to-work ordinances; several more counties appear set to follow suit in the coming days. Right-to-work laws make union dues voluntary. Absent…

  • Commentary posted January 6, 2015 by James Sherk The argument that most workers are better off without unions

    Does the ability to buy Toyotas hurt middle-class Americans? That is essentially the argument made by those who say falling union membership has harmed the middle class. But it holds little water. The decline of unions has hurt unions — while benefiting most other Americans. Union membership certainly dropped sharply in the 1970s, the period when some argue things went…

  • Commentary posted December 22, 2014 by James Sherk Right-to-work laws: Myth vs. fact

    Many states and local governments are considering right-to-work laws. These laws make union dues voluntary. Without them, union contracts make paying dues a condition of employment. While most Americans support the concept of right-to-work, unions argue strenuously against them. However, most of the arguments against right-to-work have little basis in fact. Myth:…

  • Commentary posted December 22, 2014 by James Sherk The NRLB Gave Unions a Huge Boost Today . . . But It’s Not Likely to Last

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just charged several dozen McDonalds franchises with unfair labor practices. In an unusual move, the NLRB also charged McDonalds Corp. as a co-defendant with its franchisees. As I wrote in August, these charges are part of a larger push by unions to curtail the franchise business model. Small-business owners run most fast-food…

  • Commentary posted December 18, 2014 by James Sherk Right-to-work law would protect Wisconsin workers

    Michael Romanchock recently got let go. But he was not "downsized." His employer had no issues with his performance. Romanchock got fired for not paying dues to the Teamsters. His experience demonstrates how right-to-work would help Wisconsin's workers and unemployed. Romanchock started his job in June last year. This March, the Teamsters sent him a letter demanding…