The Economic Effects Of Adopting A Right-To-Work Law: Implications For Illinois

Source: Frank Manzo IV, Roland Zullo, Robert Bruno, Alison Dickson Quesada, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Labor and Employment Relations, Labor Education Program, Policy Brief, October 7, 2013

….Since the 2010 elections, initiatives to include RTW laws in a state’s legislative agenda have begun in at least 10 other collective bargaining (CB) states, including Illinois. Recently, the governor of Missouri pledged at an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference that a right-to-work measure would be put on the ballot in 2014. If voters passed the law Missouri would become the 25th state to adopt the anti-union law. While considerable efforts have been made by legislators and political organizations to pass RTW laws in states across the country, the empirical evidence on the effect of adopting a RTW law on labor market outcomes and state budgets is both varied and mixed. If the adoption of a RTW law is to be in the policy discussion for another state, the state’s voters, residents, workers, and policymakers deserve information on the probable impact of such action. This policy brief provides a forecast on the effect of RTW laws on important labor market outcomes– including earnings, employment, unionization, and inequality. The paper also investigates RTW’s impacts on two particularly affected industries (manufacturing and construction) and three demographic groups (African-American, Latino/a, and female workers). The findings are subsequently applied to the State of Illinois to project the potential law’s impact on Illinois workers and on the state’s tax revenues….