The Pros and Cons of the Right-to-Work Act

Pros and Cons of Right-to-Work Act.

Union worker
••• Union worker. Photo skeeze Pixabay

Right to work laws are enforced in many U.S.states, under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, prohibiting agreements between labor unions and employers, avoiding them to create union only workplaces.The right-to-work laws can be a huge incentive for project team members as they don't need to negotiate with the union allowing workers to freely decide if they want to be part of a union or not.

A Right to Work law secures the right of employees to decide for them whether or not to join or financially support a union. However, employees who work in the railway or airline industries are not protected by a Right to Work law, and employees who work on a federal enclave may not be.

Right-to-Work Act Advantages

Right-to-work-defendants claim that constitutional rights were created to protect workers, allowing them to choose and providing them the right to freedom of association, arguing that workers can decide if they want to be part of the union or not. Some contend that it is unfair that unions can require new and existing employees to become union members and pay costly membership dues for services they may not want or are philosophically opposed to.

Some construction professionals believe that the Right to Work laws can increase labor productivity by increasing unions’ accountability to their members. Because they enjoy the special privilege of exclusive representation, unions have the responsibility of representing all workers during contract negotiations. Unions are legally required to represent nonmember employees the same as members, but unfortunately, this responsibility is not always fulfilled.


The AFL/CIO union argues that because of the right-to-work act unions are weakened by these laws, wages are lower and worker safety and health is endangered. This action might force workers to decide about joining the union in front of supervisors and union leaders, creating a difficult scenario for these workers that could be prone to intimidation.

Since project professionals in right-to-work states are not required to hire union members, the union's ability to improve work conditions as they will not have enough power to implement their will neither their working conditions. As a result, right-to-work states have higher employment-related fatalities than pro-union states.

Since right-to-work guarantees the employer can hire workers, whether or not they are in the union, collective agreements can result in comparatively lower wage increases than in pro-union states.

US States: Right to Work Laws

It has been published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that more jobs have been created in Right to Work states than in non-RTW states over the past twenty years, making it, even more, challenging the decision on how to implement and act on this law.

Some of the states which have passed Right to Work laws are:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Right-to-Work: The Taft-Hartley Act

Passed in 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act remains the cornerstone of United States labor law today. This act amended the Wagner Act of 1935, which reflects the attitudes of post-World War II America towards labor. Due to "national emergency" strikes during the war, postwar strikes, and the advantages given to unions by the Wagner Act, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the Act in an attempt to restore the balance of power between labor and management. The Act restricts the activities of unions in four ways by:

  1. Prohibiting unfair labor practices by unions,
  2. Listing the rights of employees who are union members,
  3. Listing the rights of employers, and
  4. Empowering the president of the United States to suspend labor strikes that may constitute a national emergency.