MEDIA RELEASE: "Right to Work" laws are wrong approach to economic recovery, strong middle class

Adding these laws in the state constitution is a move in the wrong direction, report finds

RALEIGH (February 1, 2013) – North Carolina is already a “right to work” (RTW) state, but now lawmakers are pushing to add this status to the state’s constitution.  Instead of amending the state constitution to include what already exists under state law, which is a waste of time and money for taxpayers, lawmakers should be taking a careful look at the negative role RTW laws play in supporting the state’s economic recovery.

“Right to work” laws fail to create jobs and can in fact lower wages and undermine the middle class, according to a report released today by the North Carolina Justice Center. These laws, despite the misleading name, have little to do with a right to a job. Instead, RTW laws make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to require all workers at that workplace to pay union dues.

RTW laws dilute bargaining strength and help keep unionization rates low, the report says, in turn negatively impacting workers’ wages and benefits. Increased union membership can lead to higher wages for both union and non-union members, and offer greater access to health insurance and pensions. Such increases in income and benefits that ensure financial stability for working families strengthen the middle class and local economies. In fact, if unionization increased by 10 percentage points, a typical middle class household – union or non-union – would earn an average of $1,279 more each year.

A state-by-state analysis has found arguments that RTW laws cause economic growth to be flawed because these claims do not take into account local variants. In fact, according to the report, there is little evidence that RTW laws have any impact on employment growth in the states that have them.

“If it was ever a successful economic policy, for which there is scant evidence, the new economy in North Carolina does not support economic growth through low-wages,” said Sabine Schoenbach, policy analyst with the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project. “In fact, RTW laws, which have kept unionization rates low, may ultimately harm our struggling economic recovery.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sabine Schoenbach, sabine@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2234; Carol Brooke, carol@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2144; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.

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