What Does “Right-to-Work” Give You the Right To?

Right-to-work legislation has been in the news lately as the newest push by the ruling class to cut the benefits and living standards of the working class. Cleverly named “right”, it exudes freedom just by the sound of the word. In fact it’s quite the opposite. This is part of the austerity drive taking places across the world this one masquerading as an increase in rights. Capitalism in decay has never granted a person more rights (see Nazi Germany). It’s imperative that we look past the rhetoric and see the truth. This is what right-to-work legislation brings to the working class.

Lower Wages
The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167).1 Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).[2]

Fewer People with Health Care
21 percent more people lack health insurance in right to work states compared to free-bargaining states.[3]

Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates
Right to work states have a poverty rate of 12.5 percent, compared with 10.2 percent in other states.[4] Moreover, the infant mortality rate is 16 percent higher in right to work states.[5]

Lower Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Workers Injured on the Job
Maximum weekly worker compensation benefits are $30 higher in free states ($609 versus $579 in right to work states.[6]

More Workplace Deaths and Injuries
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.[7]

Sources: http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/4358/46418/version/1/file/rtw.pdf
1 Average Annual Pay, 2001 from Bureau of Labor Statistics, State average annual pay for 2000 and 2001 and percent change in pay for all covered workers. URL: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/annpay.t01.htm.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3 Percent of population lacking health insurance from Current Population Survey, March 2002. Table HI06. Health Insurance coverage status by state for all people: 2001.
4 Poverty Rate in 2001 from U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March 2002. URL: http://ferret.bls.census.gov/macro/032002/pov/new25_001.htm.
5 O’Leary Morgan, Kathleen, and Scott Morgan, State Rankings 2001. Morgan Quitno Press, 2001.
6 Workers’ Compensation data from the AFL-CIO Department of Safety and Health.
7 Workplace Fatalities from Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect. AFL-CIO. April, 2002.