ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

American Labor Unions are Failing as States Shift to Right-to-Work

Updated on June 7, 2014

Sign Up for a Labor Union?

What is the Right-To-Work?

According to Wikipedia, the “right-to-work” is the human rights concept that people have the right to work or engage in productive employment, and may not be prevented from doing so.

This right-to-work is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment."

The right-to-work clashes with organized labor unions that protest and often go on strike, when union demands are not met. This causes delays and many problems for large companies and states that have deadlines to meet.

The Right-to-Work Movement

A movement is taking place in America, one state at a time.

Michigan has been the latest state to pass right-to-work restrictions. This is causing alarm to organized labor in the Midwest. The right-to-work movement is gaining momentum, as Indiana also enacted right-to-work restrictions earlier in the year. This makes Michigan the second state in the “industrial Midwest” to follow suit, and the 24th state to enact right-to-work provisions.

One state watching very closely to Michigan’s bold move is Wisconsin, which passed several laws in 2011 to restrict labor unions in the public sector, but did not fully pass right-to-work restrictions. Politicians in Wisconsin, particularly Republicans, will be no doubt be developing a strategy to follow Michigan’s giant move against labor unions in the “cheese state.” Other states that could be next are Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Organized labor unions are starting to get worried, since Michigan is considered a state with heavy labor union ties to the auto industry. There were over 12,000 protestors in attendance when the Michigan legislature voted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

How Right-to-Work laws Affects Businesses/Workplace

A 2007 study by Lonnie Stevans found that states with right-to-work laws help to boost the number of businesses in a state. Owners see the income gains, while the average wages of individual workers went down. Stevans said: ”Although right-to-work states may be more attractive to business, this does not necessarily translate into enhanced economic verve in the right-to-work state if there is little ‘trickle-down’ from business owners to the non-unionized workers.”

When labor unions are weakened in heavily unionized states like Michigan, then workplaces such as automobile plants are no longer required to pay labor unions. This loosens the grip of the labor union’s influence in the workplace, and reduces the labor union resources – finances in particular. In essence, “no money, no power.”

Workplaces without the presence of unions are more productive, and work production in factories meet deadlines without fear of strikes or protest.

Thomas Holmes found in a study (1998) that companies in unionized states often relocated to right-to-work states, due to the difficulty of operating with labor unions.

A survey in 1998 by William Moore found that right-to-work laws allow more independent behavior in employees, leading to the decline in union drives to organize and successfully achieve labor union goals. This was seen in Idaho and Oklahoma after they adopted such right-to-work laws.

Farm Labor Union

Farm Labor Union; Galena, KS 1938
Farm Labor Union; Galena, KS 1938

Could This be the End of Labor Unions?

Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, thinks so. He said: “It is hard to see how a union could survive under those circumstances [referring to Wisconsin’s 2011 laws passed] given how little they could contribute to collective bargaining.”

However, Rich Yeselon found an example of workers that pay their labor dues in a right-to-work state, appearing to be a minority in labor union successes. He writes: “the most powerful local union in the country, Culinary 226 in Las Vegas — a political powerhouse that ensures middle-class wages and benefits for hotel housekeepers — operates in a right-to-work state and gets close to 100% dues compliance.” This proves furthermore, that it can be done.

Currently, only 7% of the private-sector in the U.S. is unionized, and that percentage is falling.

Labor Union Poll

Would you join a labor union?

See results

Laborers On Strike

Concluding Q & A

  1. Can labor unions exist in right-to-work states? Yes.
  2. Do right-to-work restrictions weaken labor unions? Yes.
  3. Can workers get fair pay and benefits without a labor union? Yes.
  4. Who will look out for the workers without unions? Good question. States must put policies in place to protect individual workers.
  5. Do labor unions fund corruption? The saying is: "Organized Labor equals organized crime." A former labor union employee told me that the labor union he was part of, was funding corruption (the mafia). So, in some cases, yes.


Woodall, Bernie. “Michigan passes public sector “right-to-work” law amid protests.”

Grier, Peter. “Michigan ‘right to work’ law: Worse for unions than Wisconsin setback?”

Paulson, Amanda. “What Wisconsin says about labor unions’ clout in America.”

Ozbeklik, Serkan & Ozkan Eren.“Right-to-Work Laws and State-Level Economic Outcomes…”

Moore, William. “The determinants and effects of right-to-work laws…”

Yeselson, Rich. “This is Not Wisconsin. It’s Worse.”

Stevans, Lonnie K. “The Effect of Endogenous Right-to-Work Laws on Business and Economic Conditions…”

Holmes, Thomas. “The Location of Industry…”

Right-to-Work Wikipedia Entry:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • zunoguy profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      I'm a part of two unions, and I've seen the benefits in one of them, but not the other. Overall, paying dues is meh but besides wage protection (to a degree), I will not use the union otherwise. However, right-to-work scares the living daylights out of me because it gives companies and employers open game to treat their workers (legally) like absolute crap. It's kinda amazing how the average worker can support this type of initiative, especially with some of the horror stories that have been growing because of 'right-to-work'.

      Yes, organized crime and some many less than stellar things have stemmed from labor unions. But as a collective body, unions do keep employers honest as they set standards for working conditions that would not be addressed seriously otherwise. Especially in a time where managers and executives are looking for reasons to get rid of people to save their own paychecks along with pushing the envelopes of unfair working environments for profits / bonuses, there still is a need for protection of the working class.

      God knows our elected officials will not do it, who do you think provides them with campaign contributions?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)