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Right-to-work states work better

IN 23 states — Indiana is the latest to join the club — government lets workers decide for themselves whether they want to join a union and pay dues.

Want to? You can.

Don't want to? The state won't compel you to join or pay dues.

West Virginia is not one of the 23 right-to-work states.

This has economic and political consequences.

State Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson, took to the floor of the Senate recently to urge support for a bill that would let West Virginians decide for themselves as well.

Facemyer didn't give her bill a snowball's chance in heck — Democrats control the governorship, the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and union leaders overwhelmingly support Democrats — but she thinks the subject should be discussed.

Indeed it should be.

As executive director of the Polymer Alliance Zone, Facemyer attends trade shows to promote investment in West Virginia.

She told the Daily Mail's Jared Hunt that companies like West Virginia because its budget is balanced, it is reducing corporate tax rates, and its workers compensation and unemployment compensation systems are healthy.

But some companies also ask:

Is West Virginia a right-to-work state?

They don't want the hassle of communicating with their employees through an outside, sometimes hostile, organization.

And let's face it: Companies invest where they want to.

There is all kinds of evidence that many choose to invest in right-to-work states, and further evidence that right-to-work states do better economically. The subject has been intensively studied.

West Virginians complain bitterly, for example, about loss of their children and about low per capita income.

n Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore, co-authors of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain its Economic Superpower Status," in a column in the Wall Street Journal:

"Between 2008 and 2008, 4.8 million Americans moved from forced union states. That's one person every minute every day."

They note that Richard Vedder of Ohio University found a 23 percent higher per capita income growth rate in right to work states than in forced union states.

Between 1977 and 2007, that amounted to a $2,760 larger increase in per capita income in those states.

n Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason, in a column that appeared on

"Young people, for example, are flocking to right-to-work states. From 2000 to 2010, right-to-work states saw a 9.2 percent increase in the number of residents ages 25-34, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research. In this same decade, forced-union states saw that demographic shrink."

This has consequences for political representation as well.

Norquist and Gleason again:

"The public is voting with its feet in favor of freedom of association — and forced-union states, with declining populations, have diminished representation in Congress.

West Virginia has already seen this. It used to have four members in the House of Representatives.

Now it has three.

"With the 2010 census results, right-to-work states will gain 11 house seats by redistricting, while non-right-to-work states lose nine."

n From the National Institute for Labor Relations Research Fact Sheet, headlines:

"Forced-unionism states' young-adult population virtually stagnant since 1980:

"Meanwhile, the number of right-to-work state residents aged 25-34 has soared by nearly 33 percent over the same period."

These differences cannot be dismissed as statistical flukes.

Different policies produce different economic results.

West Virginians need to think about whether forced unionism is a winning policy choice, or whether they have paid too much for too long to remain losers.

Maurice is editorial page

editor of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or


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