Right-to-Work Laws: The Economic Evidence

Thu Jun 18 10:42:14 EDT 2015
By Dr. Jeffrey A. Eisenach

State Right-to-Work (RTW) laws prevent unions from forcing employees that choose not to join the union from paying an “agency fee” in lieu of union dues, a practice which is otherwise permitted under the 1947 Federal Taft-Hartley Act. Ten states passed RTW laws in the 1940s as a direct reaction to Taft-Hartley; since then, 15 more have joined, the most recent being Wisconsin, which adopted its RTW law on 10 March 2015.

This study presents comparative data on economic performance in RTW and non-RTW states. There is a large body of rigorous economic research on the effects of RTW laws on economic performance. Overall, that research suggests that RTW laws have a positive impact on economic growth, employment, investment, and innovation, both directly and indirectly. While such comparisons cannot in and of themselves demonstrate a causal relationship between RTW laws and economic performance, the data is consistent with, and thus supportive of, the results of more than four decades of rigorous economic research.