As the National Institute for Labor Relations Research reported early this year (see the first link below for more information), state and local taxes consume, on average, a 25% higher share of personal income in forced-unionism states than in Right to Work states.
What do residents of Big Labor-dominated states get in exchange for all the extra money they have to fork over in taxes? Generally speaking, they get government services that are inferior to those furnished in Right to Work states.
Roads and bridges are one important example. A new analysis summarized by Steven Peters for the publication 24/7 Wall Street draws on data for 2013 and 2014 collected and published by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the American Society of Engineers to rank all of the 50 states for the quality of their public roads systems.
Of course, as Peters acknowledges, road building and maintenance are more expensive for states with unusually large temperature differences in winter and summer and mountainous states than states that have less variable temperatures and flatter terrains. But weather conditions and geographical features can’t explain why, for example, temperate California ranks sixth from the bottom among the 50 states for infrastructure, whereas mountainous (and often frigid) Idaho ranks first.
The fact is, quality of infrastructure is closely correlated with Right to Work protections for employees. Seven of the eight states with the best roads and bridges in 2013-2014, according to Peters’ assessment, have longstanding Right to Work laws on the books. But 12 of the 13 states with the worst roads and bridges in 2013-2014 sanctioned the termination of employees for refusal to join or bankroll a union at the time.
How are Right to Work states able to provide, on average, superior infrastructure at a comparatively modest cost to taxpayers? One reason is that government-sector union bosses who lack forced-union-dues privileges have less ability to pad public payrolls with unnecessary positions and impose productivity-quashing work rules on public servants. A second explanation is that elected officials in Right to Work states are generally able to get infrastructure construction and repair projects contracted out at a more reasonable cost than their counterparts in forced-unionism states.