What is a Right-to-Work State?

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  • What is a Right-to-Work State? 

    There are currently 27 Right-to-Work states in the United States

    (by Tonya Tannenbaum)


    (Photo: Joey Csunyo/Unsplash)

    A right-to-work state is a state that forbids union security agreements. That means, companies are banned from requiring union membership as a condition of employment, hence the name “right-to-work”.

  • More specifically, in acting terms, a right-to-work state forbids employers, such as production companies, from requiring that an actor obtain union membership or to pay dues to an actor union, like SAG-AFTRA, either before or after being hired.

    Right-to-work states are permitted to pass such laws under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act.

    The Taft-Hartley Act repealed parts of the Wagner Act, which was passed in 1935 under President Roosevelt. It grants individual states the power to ban union shops (i.e. employees must pay for union representation to obtain or retain their employment) or agency shops (i.e. employees must pay for union representation but need not join the union) for employees working in their jurisdiction.

  • There are currently 27 Right-to-Work states in the United States. They include:


    Alabama
    Arizona
    Arkansas
    Kansas
    Florida
    Georgia
    Idaho
    Indiana
    lowa
    Kentucky
    Louisiana
    Michigan
    Mississippi
    Nebraska
    Nevada
    North Carolina
    North Dakota
    Oklahoma
    South Carolina
    South Dakota
    Tennessee
    Texas
    Utah
    Virginia
    West Virginia
    Wisconsin
    Wyoming


    Opposing Views

    There are many arguments made in favor of, and in opposition to, so called right-to-work laws. Proponents of such laws often argue that it is unfair to require employees to join a union as a condition of employment, particularly when they may not agree with the union’s political positions or political contributions.

    Opponents of right-to-work laws point to the effect that such laws have in weakening labor unions. They argue that such laws create free riders – employees who benefit from collective bargaining without actually paying for it.


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