Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed legislation to make union membership in a place of work voluntary instead of mandatory.
Walker’s efforts to increase worker freedom in the state began in 2011, when he signed Act 10, a bill freeing employees unrepresented by a union from involuntary payments to the union.
MacIver Institute Communications Director Nick Novak says the new law will benefit Wisconsin workers and the state’s economy.
“The right-to-work policy in Wisconsin is obviously going to be a huge win for Wisconsin’s economy and ensuring worker freedom all across the state,” Novak said. “Almost every economic indicator that we can look at shows that right-to-work states outperform states without right-to-work. When you look at job growth, when you look at wages, right-to-work states are just performing better overall, and so it’s going to be a good thing for Wisconsin’s economy and for workers that maybe wouldn’t want to join a union at their place of employment.”
Worker Freedom, Prosperity
Novak says wherever individual freedom is promoted, economic prosperity follows.
“The focus needs to be on worker freedom,” Novak said. “The data already suggests right-to-work states are better economically, but the folks on the other side have their own data that they could argue about all day long. … Worker freedom is the most important aspect.”
Novak says people who choose to bargain collectively can still do so.
“Right-to-work does not prohibit unions or outlaw collective bargaining,” Novak said. “All it does is allow workers to choose whether or not they want to be a part of a union, and if they don’t, they won’t have to pay union dues. Right-to-work says you don’t have to be a part of a union as a condition of your employment. Previously, you could be fired if you refused to pay union dues for certain jobs. The individual should be able to make the choice.”
‘A Great Victory’
Ohio University economics professor Richard Vedder says the passage of the Wisconsin right-to-work law was a historic moment for the entire nation. Vedder is also a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News.
“I think it was a great victory for workers, the citizens of Wisconsin, and more generally, for the nation, because this is a turning point,” Vedder said. “This is the first time in American history since right-to-work laws began in the 1940s that we have half of the American states with right-to-work laws.
“We have a hit a milestone,” he said.
Vedder says the right-to-work law will help revitalize Wisconsin’s economy.
“Wisconsin has grown … slowly compared to the national average,” Vedder said. “This law is another tool that would allow the growth deficit to be erased over time. It gives Wisconsin a chance to reassert its economic power and become one of the nation’s more prosperous states.”
Alexander Anton ([email protected]) writes from Palatine, Illinois.
Christopher Denhart, et al., “The Economic Impact of a Right-to-Work Law on Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Policy Research Institute: https://heartland.org/policy-documents/economic-impact-right-work-law-wisconsin/