Right-to-Work Bills on Docket in GOP-Controlled Statehouses

The GOP’s takeover of the U.S. Senate got a lot of attention post-Election Day, but the widening Republican majority in state houses around the country could prove equally as destructive for working families.

Beginning in January, Republicans will control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers – the highest in the party’s history. Their first target in the new legislative session could be unions.

A recent Washington Post article shows that emboldened GOP lawmakers plan to push for the further expansion of right-to-work legislation, which allows employees to benefit from collective bargaining without paying their fair share of the cost. Right-to-work laws do not boost economic growth and reduce workers’ wages and benefits, according to an Economic Policy Institute study.

“Republicans in at least five states – Wisconsin, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri – have introduced or plan to introduce versions of the law in legislative sessions that will begin in January. Legislators in Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Pennsylvania are all likely to push similar laws, though union-friendly Democratic governors in each state will act as firewalls.”

Michigan and Indiana became the latest states to adopt right-to-work laws in 2012, bringing the total number of states with the anti-worker legislation to 24. In 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), despite massive protests, signed into law a bill eviscerating collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Now, conservative lawmakers in Wisconsin, and other states, want to further erode workers’ rights.

“Any introduction of right-to-work legislation would be a move in the wrong direction for Wisconsin and a serious disappointment at a time when Wisconsin needs legislators to focus on family-supporting jobs and reviving our sluggish economy,” Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, told the Washington Post. “These bills have proven time and time again to decrease wages and safety standards in all workplaces.”