Kentucky and Missouri have become the 27th and 28th right-to-work states. Kentucky passed its right-to-work law last month, while Missouri passed its right-to-work law earlier this month. As seen in the map below, almost the entire southern and middle parts of the country have right-to-work laws in place.
A right-to-work law prohibits employees from being required to join unions or to pay union dues. Opponents of right-to-work laws argue that they are a solution to the free rider problem, where all employees, whether or not they are union members, receive the advantages resulting from union negotiation like higher wages and more time off. Proponents of right-to-work laws argue that they permit freedom of association and contract by not forcing unwilling employees to join unions. Right-to-work laws are generally favored by business, as they limit the financial contributions to unions.
Kentucky also repealed its prevailing wage law, which required wages paid for construction projects to be based upon a community survey of wages. This generally resulted in wages that were equivalent to those that would have been paid to unions. Many states, including Illinois, have prevailing wage laws.
Right-to-work laws have gained some momentum nationwide. Since 2012, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, along with Kentucky and Missouri, have passed right-to-work laws. New Hampshire is considering passing a right-to-work law. A national right-to-work bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Illinois, Governor Rauner has argued that local governments have the right under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to pass right-to-work ordinances, which encouraged Lincolnshire to pass such an ordinance in 2015. Last month, a federal court struck down this ordinance, ruling that the NLRA does not give local governments the authority to pass right-to-work laws.
Stay tuned to The Workplace Report for updates on newly passed laws affecting employers.