Efforts to create local “right-to-work” zones would have negative impacts on workers and the economy in Illinois. The preponderance of evidence finds that worker incomes are lower in economies with right-to-work laws and that employment effects are minimal at best. For instance, average worker wages are $2.90 per hour (13 percent) higher in Illinois than in right-to-work Indiana and Illinois added 14,000 more jobs in 2014. At the same time, the unemployment rate in eastern Illinois counties was lower than in right-to-work counties across the Indiana border in December 2014. The proposal for local right-to-work zones is based on the assumption that high union density hampers local economies. An analysis of the 102 counties in Illinois, however, reveals that this presupposition is unfounded. Higher county-level unionization rates within Illinois have no discernible impact on employment growth, establishment openings growth, and average household income growth. The evidence that unionization raises the unemployment rate in Illinois is also weak. The claim that right-to-work is an effective way to put people to work is rejected for lack of evidence. Incorporating estimates from previous policy research, economic impact analyses are performed to determine the effect of adopting local right-to-work laws in half of Illinois’ counties, excluding Cook County. The models randomly select 51 counties to become right-to-work zones and demonstrate the negative consequences of the proposal. If half of the state’s counties (excluding Cook County) became right-to-work zones:
- Total labor income would fall by $1.3 billion;
- The economy would shrink by $1.5 billion;
- State and local tax revenues would be reduced by $80 million;
- Labor unions would experience a loss of 200,000 members;
- Racial income inequality and gender income inequality would both increase; and
- The number of workplace injuries and fatalities would rise.
In the seven integrated county economies with over 100,000 workers in Illinois, predicted impacts are generally similar. If local right-to-work zones were only passed in the Chicago six-county area, the regional economy would experience over 5,500 jobs lost and an economic contraction of $2.6 billion. Both businesses and workers would relocate to other parts of the state with better incomes and higher consumer demand. Similarly, local right-to-work laws would reduce total worker earnings by around $40 to $60 million in the Champaign-Urbana, Quad Cities, Rockford, and Springfield-Decatur regions. Labor income would also be predicted to decline by $16 million in the Peoria-Bloomington community and by $104 million in the St. Louis region. Local right-to-work zones would eradicate good middle-class jobs, replacing them with low-wage employment openings and redistributing income from labor to capital. Ultimately, economic analysis reveals that local right-to-work laws would reduce worker earnings and decrease state and local tax revenues. The result would be a weaker Illinois economy.
Source: Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
At a time when companies, workers and politicians should be working together to grow the U.S. economy, some politicians and companies are engaging in divisive petty partisan politics. Instead of creating jobs and safe workplaces, these politicians and companies want to overturn Missouri’s labor laws and enact legislation deceptively misnamed “Right to Work” (RTW).
Right to Work laws have nothing to do with providing rights or work. In fact, Right to Work laws make it harder for middle class families to protect their wages and job security and take away their voice in the workplace. At a time when CEO pay has grown 364 times higher than what the average worker makes, this law would give big corporations even more power to cut wages and benefits so they can make higher profits. RTW laws have nothing to do with providing rights or work.
Instead of passing Right to Work laws that hurt the middle class, politicians should preserve the right of companies and workers to work together and strengthen Missouri’s economy.
Safety – A Unions Most Important Responsibility
There is nothing we do as a Union that is more important than safety.
No matter what we grieve or negotiate, whether it’s wages, holidays, sick leave, pension, or medical insurance, the most important aspect of your job is that you go home every day the same way you came to work. While we can negotiate or re-negotiate all of your terms and conditions of employment, we cannot re-negotiate a lost finger, eye, or heaven forbid, a fatality.
Since their inception, Unions have fought for safer conditions in the workplace. That work continues today as employers constantly talk about safety, but often put production ahead of safety. In fairness, there are employers that share our passion for safety, and choose work with us to minimize or eliminate workplace hazards.
We must continue to be vigilant every day in the workplace and look out not only for ourselves, but also for our brothers and sisters. Rest assured, Local 148 will continue the tradition set down by those that came before us to make the workplace safer today than it was yesterday.
Call your State Representative to oppose House Bill 251 which is Paycheck “Protection” (Deception). The intent of the bill is to encourage public sector employees to leave their union to give more power to the employer. Call 855-626-6011 and they will be put through to your Representative’s office. With more money pouring into politics from big corporations than ever before, it’s crucial that working families are able to protect our own interests. “Paycheck deception” laws being proposed would create burdensome restrictions that interfere with union members’ rights to participate in the political and legislative process. These laws also weaken the ability of working people to advance working family issues such as legislation that would create jobs and stop job outsourcing.