Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law Prompts Manufacturer’s Relocation

Published January 9, 2018

Badger Meter, a manufacturing company producing turbines and other industrial parts, is moving jobs from its Arizona plant to Wisconsin, citing the latter state’s right-to-work law as a factor.

In March, the company will close its Scottsdale, Arizona plant and relocate employees to its Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin facility. In addition to the 30 to 35 relocated employees, Badger Meter also plans to hire new local workers for the high-skilled, high-paying positions.

As reported by the Racine Journal-Times, Badger Meter CEO Richard Meeusen says Wisconsin’s right-to-work policy influenced his decision to relocate the company’s factory work and create new jobs in Wisconsin.

“We probably would not have brought those jobs to Wisconsin if it was not a right-to-work state,” Meeusen told the newspaper.

Right-to-work laws, including the one Wisconsin enacted in 2015, prohibit compulsory union membership as a condition of employment.

Putting Workers First

Dalia Marciukaityte, an associate professor of finance at Illinois State University and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says right-to-work laws are good for workers.

“Without right-to-work laws, unions only need to care about the support of the majority and can ignore the interests of other employees without any cost to the unions,” Marciukaityte said. “With right-to-work laws, each employee has a choice not to pay unions, making unions work harder if they want to collect dues from employees.”

Right-to-work laws have a track record of benefiting all workers, Marciukaityte says.

“Right-to-work laws are likely to benefit all employees,” Marciukaityte said.  “The best work conditions are not in unionized firms but in flourishing industries that need to attract more good employees.”

Employer Appeal

Stan Greer, a senior research associate with the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, says right-to-work laws strongly influence business owners’ decisions about where to build and expand their companies.

“The survey showed a remarkable 78 percent of CEOs either ‘only hire’ or ‘prefer to hire’ in right-to-work states,” Greer said. “Overwhelmingly, through the years, job creators have judged that, in right-to-work states, employees have superior work ethics, real estate costs are relatively low, and public officials have a much more positive attitude toward business.”