Report: Right-to-Work States Get ‘Free Ride’ Off American Taxpayers

Workers in states with so-called “right-to-work” laws on average receive a disproportionate amount of public assistance, compared with the federal income taxes they pay, than workers in states that require every worker to pay their fair share for union representation, according to a report released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Researchers say right-to-work laws encourage more workers to “free-ride,” not only unions’ efforts by not contributing dues or fees, but also the rest of American taxpayers.

“By paying more in taxes, workers in [non-right-to-work] states are subsidizing the low-wage, low-skill model of employment in right-to-work states,” reads the report entitled “Free Rider States.”

Researchers find that while right-to-work states may experience a small increase in employment, any economic advances are immediately undercut by “a significant decrease in total labor income, a considerable decline in state income tax revenues, an even larger drop in federal income tax revenues, and an increased depletion of public budgets.”

Also as a result, unions become “resource-starved, causing [them] to underperform,” reads the report. “The true intent of a right-to-work law is to discourage union activity and reduce bargaining power for workers.”

As it currently stands, 24 states have right-to-work laws allowing non-union workers to receive the benefits of collective bargaining off the backs of their dues-paying co-workers. But the conservative push for more right-to-work laws is “evolving mutating,” says a recent report by the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune.

Conservatives are now targeting the city and county level, in a twisted effort to get the issue before the Supreme Court.

“Like a deadly disease mutating into an even deadlier form, right-to-work has mutated in a new, more sinister direction,” writes labor reporter Ed Finkelstein. “Quietly, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) – an initiative of the archconservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – has begun working to pass right-to-work laws at the city and county level. Or at least that appears to be its public goal. A review by the Labor Tribune of the group’s initial efforts clearly indicates a new right-wing strategy, one where RTW backers, whether they win or lose at the local level, expect legal challenges from the losing side that will ultimately get the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. The legal challenges, funded by the National Right To Work Foundation or the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, will wind up before what one reporter called ‘the corporate-friendly U.S. Supreme Court.’”

Read more on the right wing’s new right-to-work tactic here.