VIRGINIA’S right to work law has been a pillar of the commonwealth’s labor policy since 1947.
This law ensures that Virginia workers cannot be forced to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. That decision—to support or not support a union—is left in the hands of the individual, where it belongs.
This commitment to freedom of association is not only the right thing to do, but it helps Virginia’s economy. Yet in recent years a number of radical politicians, such as Del. Lee Carter, D–Prince William, have sought to overthrow our right to work law.
Carter submitted House Bill 1806 this year, which would have repealed right to work and set up a system of compulsory dues and fees taken from those who do not wish to support a union.
Thankfully, the legislature stopped this misguided bill, but Carter and other candidates for the 2019 legislative election have sworn to continue trying to abolish right to work. Such an action would be foolish. Right to work has helped Virginia, and those seeking to serve in state office would be wise to recognize its merits.
Primarily, right to work protects ordinary Virginia workers. Without it, hundreds of thousands of employees would be forced to pay union dues or be fired. Right to work provides safety from this kind of coercion. To take away the right to personal agency would be just plain wrong.
But the law’s advantages do not stop there.
Studies show that states with right to work laws, like Virginia, have the advantage in job creation and personal income growth. In fact, right to work states have double the job growth of non-right to work states.
When workers have the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union, businesses are more likely to create new jobs or transfer existing jobs to those areas.
When Amazon sought to expand into New York, a forced-unionism state, they faced hostility and unreasonable demands. Union officials sought to control the new employees Amazon would have brought on. Ultimately, Amazon shut down their expansion plans in New York.
Here in Virginia, on the other hand, right to work will protect the 25,000+ jobs that Amazon’s expansion is slated to create by 2030.
Study after study has shown that at least half of all businesses won’t even look at non-right to work states when planning expansion or relocation.
Why would Virginia want to lose out on jobs and growth?
Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between right to work and higher real personal income.
In fact, the average right to work state’s cost of living-adjusted, after-tax income per household was roughly $4,500 higher than households in states that permit forced unionism. Virginia topped that list as the highest nationwide. The real spendable income per household in Virginia was $65,959—over $13,000 higher than the forced-unionism state average.
So why would radical politicians like Lee Carter seek to eliminate right to work?
In order to continue protecting workers, Virginians should insist their legislators oppose forced unionism.