Right To Organize:

NWI Statement on Right to Work


Right To Organize

The National Workrights Institute opposes right to work laws. Despite their misleading title, right to work laws do not create a right to work, nor do they protect workers from being fired for unjust reasons.

What right to work laws actually do is allow workers in union shops to accept the benefits of unionizing without paying their share of the costs. The National Labor Relations Act requires unions to represent all employees in the bargaining unit. All workers in the unit receive the increased wages and benefits negotiated by the union. All workers receive protection from unjust discharge under the collective bargaining agreement and representation in arbitrations challenging unjust terminations at no charge. It is only fair that all workers who receive these benefits share the costs. This is what the NLRA provides.

State right to work laws, which are permitted by the NLRA, change this arrangement. Under such laws, workers are permitted to receive the benefits of the collective bargaining agreement without paying their share of the costs. This forces fellow employees to pay more than their share to make up the loss. Such free riding (it ought to be called freeloading) should not be encouraged by state legislatures.

Right to work laws also weaken unions by forcing them to provide services to workers without being reimbursed for their costs.

This is exactly what proponents of right to work laws want. The champions of right to work laws are not supporters of workers’ rights. The National Right to Work Committee was founded in 1954 by a group of ultra-conservative businessmen, including Whitford Blakeney, one of the best known anti-labor lawyers of his time, whose career included representing J.P. Stevens textile company, whose campaign against unionization was found by the National Labor Relations Board to include “excessive and egregious unfair labor practices”. To this day, the NRTWC functions as an arm of organized business. It did not support civil rights laws protecting workers from racial and gender discrimination. It does not support increasing protection against retaliation for workers who try to organize. It does not support protecting workers’ lives by improving enforcement of occupational safety and health laws. In fact, the Committee’s leadership works closely with those who oppose improving the rights of workers.

Advocates of right to work laws claim that such laws protect workers’ right to freedom of association by preventing them from being forced to join unions against their will. This is not true. Workers already have this right under the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 of the Act prohibits discrimination against any employee because they have chosen to join or not join a union. No new state law is needed to protect workers in this area. Right to work laws allow workers to accept the benefits of union membership without sharing the cost. This is a right no one should have, the right to get something for nothing and make others pay the bill.