Mark Mix Affirms Economic Benefits of Right to Work Virginia

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: 

In America, one of the keys to success is the ability to compete on a level playing field. And states looking for a competitive advantage in this lagging economy should look to Virginia as an example.

Virginia ranks 10th in the nation in unemployment (5.9 percent in July), had a budget surplus the past three years without increasing taxes and has mean hourly wages that top the national average.

Some factors that set Virginia apart from its less fortunate neighbor are the state’s popular right-to-work law and the state’s prohibition of government union monopoly bargaining powers.

You see, total private-sector employment in right-to-work states went up by 10.3 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared with a gain of just 1.9 percent for the non-right-to-work states.

Moreover, based on cost-of-living-adjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics and Commerce Department data, workers in right-to-work states enjoy higher wages, more disposable income ($36,821 versus $34,638), and higher standards of living compared with their colleagues in forced-unionism states.

In right-to-work states, a manufacturing worker adds more than $17,000 more in value to a company than in non-right-to-work states.

And while right-to-work may have numerous economic benefits to both workers and job providers, right-to-work’s main benefit is that it protects workers’ freedom of association.

No person should be forced to financially support a private organization they do not agree with. However, union bosses enjoy government-granted special privileges to force millions of Americans to do just that. Imagine the outrage if everyone were forced to fund a political party, church or civic organization.

Right-to-work makes it less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable. Voluntary unionism ensures that if a worker does not see the benefit of belonging to a union, he can simply cut off his financial support, forcing union officials to take into account the workers’ best interests if they hope to continue to collect their dues.

Right-to-work is also politically popular. Poll after poll shows that 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of union members oppose forced unionism.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s ban on government union boss monopoly bargaining passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Douglas Wilder in 1993.

Taxpayers can easily see how Virginia’s pro-worker laws have mercifully freed Richmond from the type of political disruption plaguing forced-unionism states that try to tighten their belts by curbing the excesses of union bargaining power over taxpayers. In just the past two years, Wisconsin and Ohio legislators endured disruptive protests and vicious, union-backed political campaigns because they had the temerity to challenge Big Labor’s public-sector stranglehold, an arrangement that drives up the cost of government while handing taxpayers the bill.

In states without public-sector right-to-work protections, union bosses often funnel nonunion workers’ forced dues into coordinated political campaigns to protect and expand their special privileges. As a result, every attempt to rein in government spending is met with fierce opposition from government union operatives, who will do almost anything to defend their forced-dues revenue stream.

Protecting worker freedom will always be at the core of Virginia’s longstanding right-to-work law. But for the 27 states, including Maryland, that do not have right-to-work protections on the books but are looking to compete in a national and global economy, the tangible economic benefits of right-to-work are worth looking into.

Mark Mix is president of National Right to Work. For more information, go to