For the individual worker, that means knowledge is a better route to higher pay and benefits than belonging to a union and allowing someone else to negotiate on your behalf.
Right-to-work laws are no longer novelties of conservative politicians. Instead they are an increasingly important part of the overall package that states present to try to lure new businesses.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week:
"According to the West Michigan Policy Forum, of the 10 states with the highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws. Those numbers are driving net migration from forced union states: Between 2000 and 2010, 5 million people moved to right-to-work states from compulsory union states."
But right-to-work laws are also about a moral right that all workers should have - the right to decide whether to join a union and pay dues to an organization that the worker may or may not agree with.
The continued spread of right-to-work laws does not mean the death of unions.
It does, however, mean that union leaders who have enjoyed the benefits of compulsory membership and the dues that go with that will have to return to the basics and explain to individual workers the benefits of joining a union.
And they had better adjust to the paradigm shift quickly. If right-to-work can pass in Michigan, it can pass anywhere, including West Virginia.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.