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On January 31, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and 10 0riginal cosponsors introduced legislation that would restore an important personal freedom for millions of American employees. Sen. Paul’s S.204, also known as the National Right to Work Act, would simply repeal the current provisions in federal labor law that authorize compulsory union dues and fee payments as a condition of employment.
Compulsory unionism is primarily a moral issue. No employee should face job loss as a consequence of his or her decision to refuse to join or bankroll a union. S.204 would bar this from happening to any worker covered by federal labor statutes.
At the same time, of all the economic reforms Congress may consider this year and in 2014, S.204 would surely have the strongest positive impact for incomes and jobs. The potential boost s.204 could give to the national employment market can be illustrated by the U.S. Labor Department’s data for civilian noninstitutional employment in the 50 states from January 2009, the month Barack Obama first took office as U.S. President, through December 2012. This is the most comprehensive Labor Department gauge of job growth available.
In the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books protecting employees from forced union dues throughout the past four years, civilian employment has grown by a net 1.51 million, or 2.7%, since January 2009. Meanwhile, in the 27 states that lacked Right to Work laws prior to December 2012, civilian employment fell by nearly 240,000, or 0.3%. (Indiana, which first adopted a Right to Work law in February 2012, is excluded from this analysis. Michigan, which approved a Right to Work law in December 2012, is counted as a forced-unionism state, since its new law does not take effect until this March.)
All the eight states with the highest percentage job growth from January 2009 through December 2012 — Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — are Right to Work. Meanwhile, seven of the nine states with the worst job losses are forced-unionism.
But it’s not just employees and employers in states without Right to Work laws who are harmed by federally-imposed compulsory unionism. Union bosses funnel a huge portion of the forced dues and fees they collect with federal policy’s abetment into politics. And the union-label politicians who routinely get elected and reelected because of their forced dues-funded support overwhelmingly favor higher taxes and more red-tape regulation of businesses. This is true at the federal, state and local levels.
The actions of forced dues-funded politicians thus result in less job growth nationwide. Of course, Big Labor politicians do the most damage in states where union bosses rake in the most forced-dues money.
But if Congress adopted S.204, and thus repealed all the forced-dues provisions in the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act, this massive impediment to economic growth would be lifted. Forced-dues repeal would spur job growth in all 50 states. Businesses based in current Right to Work states would share the benefits as their major out-of-state customers and suppliers were freed from the burden of compulsory unionism.