Two Right-to-Work States in One Month

Both Kentucky and Missouri gave workers the freedom to choose at the start of 2017. In the first week of the year, Kentucky passed worker freedom, followed less than a month later by the Show-Me State. 

Right-to-work simply means that unions cannot get workers fired for not paying them. Employees in 28 states now have this right, thanks to the law. 

The Mackinac Center has been on the ground providing intellectual ammunition and messaging, and sharing the story of how Michigan became a worker-freedom state in 2012. Since that year, the Center has worked with local think tanks, elected officials, and grassroots groups in every state that has become right-to work.

Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions in Kentucky, summarizes how Mackinac helped in his state. “The relevant and consistently updated research provided by Mackinac Center Labor Policy Director Vincent Vernuccio and his team was critical to the success of our hard-fought effort to bring right-to-work to Kentucky. Their efforts mean more opportunities and a better future for our state and its citizens.” 

In Missouri, the Center has been on the ground advancing worker freedom for years, starting when Vernuccio testified there in January 2014. Since then, Mackinac has published numerus op-eds in Missouri papers, met with lawmakers and worked with local grassroots groups. Vernuccio testified in both the State House and Senate in support of the bill that eventually passed. 

Mackinac research compiled by Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman was cited in recent and past debates. 

Hohman used government data from the Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, and other agencies to show that right-to-work means more jobs, higher wages, a better economy and higher population growth. 

Hohman’s research provided to lawmakers in Missouri, in conjunction with Vernuccio’s testimony, detailed how:

  • Personal income in right-to-work states grew nearly 93 percent over 15 years, but only 74 percent in non-right-to-work states. 
  • Weekly earnings are up in states that have recently passed right-to-work. They are up 14 percent, or $102, in Indiana since 2012; 9.2 percent, or $71, in Michigan since 2013; 2.9 percent, or $23, in Wisconsin since 2015; and 1.5 percent, or $11, in West Virginia since February 2016.   
  • Private-sector jobs in right-to-work states grew by 13.5 percent from 2000 to 2015. Other states saw less than half that growth, at only 5.8 percent.
  • Seven of the 10 states with the most private-sector job growth since 2000 are right-to-work. Michigan’s unemployment rate was at 8.8 percent, or 45th worst in the country, before right-to-work. With right-to-work, its unemployment rate is 4.9 percent and Michigan ranks 28th nationally. After passing right-to-work, Indiana’s unemployment fell from 8.3 percent to 4.2 percent and its national ranking improved from 34th to 17th.
  • More people are moving to right-to-work states. Between 2000 and 2016, the population of right-to-work states grew by 23.6 percent, compared to only 10 percent in other states.
  • In just one year, between July 2015 and July 2016, a net of nearly half a million Americans moved from non-right-to-work states to right-to-work states.

Since Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012, the country has added about one state per year to the worker-freedom column. This is in contrast to the record before that of roughly once a decade. The fire of worker freedom is shining brightly, and it is spreading quickly across the nation. The Mackinac Center has been and will be there to make sure freedom continues to spread across the land.