RIGHT-to-work issue Holdouts face new efforts to change labor laws
Hemmed in by a growing number of states that block mandatory union fees in workplaces, holdout states in the Midwest are facing renewed attempts to enact so-called right-to-work laws.
Missouri’s new law will go to a statewide referendum in November, while a pair of Republican lawmakers in Ohio announced last month they want to put the issue before voters in two years.
With many of their neighboring states – some with deep ties to organized labor – already adopting right-to-work laws, the question is whether unions and their Democratic supporters will able to stop the next domino from falling.
In a right-to-work state, employees can’t be required to pay union dues or fees. But unions that are the exclusive bargaining representative still must represent all employees, even those who don’t pay.
It wasn’t long ago that Indiana became the first Rust Belt state to enact right-to-work in 2012. Nearby states including Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky followed – leaving Ohio, Illinois and Missouri nearly surrounded.
Right-to-work backers in those three remaining states contend they’re now at a disadvantage and in danger of being left behind because they believe the laws make nearby states more business friendly and attract jobs.
“My fear is that if we don’t do this, we will see states like Indiana and Michigan pull away,” said Rep. Craig Riedel, an Ohio Republican who wants the GOP-controlled Legislature to put six right-to-work amendments on the 2020 ballot.
Economists and labor researchers say it’s difficult to determine the true impact of such laws because dozens of other factors influence where companies decide to locate, such as energy costs and access to transportation.