Chairperson Davis and members of the committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify in support of House Bill 264.
My name is Arianna Wilkerson. I am a government relations coordinator at The Heartland Institute, a 34-year-old national nonprofit research and education organization. The Heartland Institute is headquartered in Illinois and focuses on providing national, state, and local elected officials with reliable and timely research and analyses on important policy issues.
There are currently 28 states that have enacted right-to-work laws. Right-to-work laws empower employees with the freedom to join or refuse to join a union, the power to choose to pay fees or other charges to a union, or the option to pay any third-party or charity instead of being forced to pay a union.
Right-to-work is a positive reform all states should consider. They can have a dramatic impact on a state’s economy, create new jobs, improve a state’s business climate, and encourage economic competitiveness. States that have enacted these policies have experienced positive economic progress across the board, often outpacing neighboring states without right-to-work protections.
In 2015, researchers at West Virginia University found right-to-work policies generate long-term gross domestic product growth at a rate that’s 0.5 percentage points higher than non-right-to-work states. The study also found between 1950 and 2014, employment grew more rapidly in right-to-work states, especially in the manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors.
Other studies have found similar results. In 2013, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy analyzed data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and found right-to-work states showed a “42.6 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011, while non-right-to-work states showed gains of only 18.8 percent.” The Mackinac study also found inflation-adjusted gross personal income in right-to-work states increased by 86.5 percent between 1990 and 2013, compared to just 51.3 percent for non-right-to-work states.
In 2015, Jeffrey Eisenach, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting, examined U.S. Census Bureau data for the years 2001 to 2012 and found that the number of businesses in right-to-work states increased by 9.2 percent, compared to just 2.1 percent in non-right-to-work states. Ron Starner, Mark Arend, and John McCurry of Site Selection Magazine estimate “roughly half of all major businesses refuse to consider locating in jurisdictions with compulsory dues.”
In addition to the volumes of data showing the economic benefits of right-to-work laws, it is also important to recognize these protections create freedom for workers. No American seeking to earn a living should be forced to join a union or to contribute part of his or her salary to a union that does not represent his or her beliefs. Forced unionization violates every worker’s right to freely associate.
Right-to-work laws have been proven to create new jobs and generate economic and population growth, all while supporting worker freedom and individual choice. Maryland should carefully consider becoming the 29th state to enact right-to-work legislation.
Thank you for your time.