Minnesota 2020 Analysis Finds "Right to Work" a Losing Bet
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The push for so-called "right-to-work" legislation failed last year at the state Capitol, and a new report from a St. Paul-based think tank finds that's a good thing.
Minnesota 2020 has analyzed the impact of right-to-work laws, and senior fellow Matt Entenza says it found states that implement them do not see the promised job or wage gains.
"This report shows that so-called 'right-to-work' legislation actually decreases wages, decreases our employment competitiveness and makes us more like states like Mississippi and Alabama, who are not the states we want to emulate."
Mississippi has the lowest per-capita personal income in the nation. Minnesota has the 11th highest. Supporters of right-to-work laws contend that people should be able to choose whether or not to join a union and pay dues.
Entenza notes that no one in Minnesota can be forced to join a union and can choose to pay lower dues amounts, while still getting full representation and union benefits.
"In Minnesota, they pay what's called a 'fair share,' and that means they're paying for the fact that someone is helping them to get higher wages. The reality that we're seeing in Michigan, which is passing 'right to work' laws, is this really seems to be about trying to cripple unions and drive down wages."
Michigan lawmakers passed right-to-work legislation on Tuesday and Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill hours later, making Michigan the 24th state with such a law.
While the vast majority of Minnesotans in the private sector are employed in industries without unions, Entenza say their strength is important for all workers.
"Even though unions only represent a little less than 10 percent of the private sector workforce, they actually hold up wages for everybody and help make sure that people can afford to live at a time when the middle class knows that things are very difficult."
Entenza believes what lawmakers should focus on in next month's session are priorities that will make a difference – such as strengthening education and making government services more efficient.
More information is online at mn2020.org.