In a victory for economic freedom within its borders the Supreme Court of the state of Kentucky has ruled 4-3 to uphold the state’s ‘right-to-work’ laws – implemented just in early 2017 – that makes mandatory unions illegal and bars unions from garnishing the wages of private-sector workers against their will for fees.
The victory for Kentucky workers sick of being forced to swear fealty to unions keen to slice off a share of their wages for various dues fees and costs, comes with a rejection of the challenge led by the AFL-CIO against the states Right to Work legislation passed by Republicans after taking control of the state legislature for the first time since 1921.
The largest conglomeration of unions in the US the massive lobbying organizations economic stake in the game is clear, with the case (Zuckerman v. Bevin, Kentucky Supreme Court, No. 2018-SC-000097-TG) being a rather desperate ploy to stop Kentucky from becoming the latest state to join the fold of nearly thirty that currently have some form of firm Right-to-Work legislation; assayed against about 10 with legally mandated unionization, essentially an R2W antithesis.
With the ruling disintegrating the mega-union’s claims of discrimination, Right-to-Work continues to enjoy a streak of never being struck down by court rulings. With the law quite literally simply preventing Unions from being mandatory, it’s a rather big ask for them to do so in the first place. Judge Laurance Vanmeter wrote for the court.
“The legislature clearly established a rational basis for the act: to promote economic development, to promote job growth, and to remove Kentucky’s economic disadvantages in competing with neighboring states,”
That argument is genuinely well founded. Right-to-work states have enjoyed a competitive edge over their counterparts that has manifested into economic growth, more employment opportunities, and even – counterintuitive to unionization logic – higher wages. Economics Professor Richard Vedder (Ohio Univ.) explains on the New York Times,
“Real personal income in the right-to-work states rose nearly twice as much as in other states from 1970 and 2013…even after correcting for population growth, income per person on average rose somewhat more in the right to work jurisdictions. Capital moves to right-to-work states with a more stable labor environment, and that increases labor demand and, ultimately, income and wages.”
These findings; that striking down the shackles of mandatory unionization catalyzing economic prosperity have been replicated across the spectrum of academia and industry analysis. The National Institute for Labor Relations compiled research from economic specialists like Vedder and concludes,
“Across America, Right to Work states have long benefited from economic growth far superior to that of states in which millions of employees are forced to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union just to keep their jobs… Although many factors besides labor laws affect economic change, the evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between economic growth and the presence of [a Right to Work] law and that the magnitude of the legislation’s effects may be substantial.”
With the number of Americans living with Right-To-Work protections from forced unionization increasing from 1/5th merely decades ago almost half of the country it appears residents of states are taking note of economic successes R2W is bringing elsewhere.
The Immorality of Coercion Based Institutions
Even putting aside, the ample evidence of R2W legislation being good for economic prosperity the moral case for barring unions from imposing their will on entire industries should be relatively self-evident from the perspective of free association and freedom to choose one’s trade.
Here’s what it boils down to – if the service the Union provides workers is *worth* the extortionate fees, dues, etc. charged to members people will *choose* to be a member. If it isn’t then they won’t; simple stuff. And in fact, some unions do continue to exist and even prosper in states with Right-to-Work legislation.
But the reality is the litany of unions complete with their own litany of means to siphon member’s paychecks (often without them being able to have a say) are more often than not absolutely not worth their price. The members know it, and the Union fat cats like the AFL-CIO know it; that’s why they fight tooth and nail to keep their ‘services’ mandatory.
But Americans are turning the tide on compulsory union membership one liberated state at a time as even stalwart union states like Kentucky turn in light of an age old simple economic truth,
If you need to force someone to pay for something then its probably not worth paying for…