Union membership rates increased in 11 of 24 workplace freedom states in 2013, undermining Big Labor’s insistence that workplace freedom is “union-busting.”
Workplace freedom — also referred to as Right to Work — laws protect workers from being fired for refusing to pay union dues or “fair share” fees. Because workplace freedom makes unions more accountable to workers, union bosses fight it tooth and nail.
Oklahoma, Indiana, and Michigan have all enacted workplace freedom laws since 2000; how do trends in these states fit with the union narrative? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2013 report on union membership last month.
Indiana adopted workplace freedom in 2012, and union membership increased to 9.3 percent of workers last year after a drop from 11.3 to 9.1 percent the year before.
Oklahoma, which passed a workplace freedom law in 2001, saw union membership remain steady in 2013 at 7.5 percent of the employed, after an increase from 6.4 percent in 2011 to 7.5 percent in 2012.
Michigan’s workplace freedom law took effect last spring, and the state recorded a drop in union membership to 16.3 from 16.6 percent of workers after a steeper decline from 17.5 percent in 2011. Nearly 22 percent of Michigan workers were union members in 2003.
Last year’s union gains in workplace freedom states Alabama (1.5 percent), Nebraska (1.3 percent), and Tennessee (1.3 percent) all topped the 1.2 percent membership rate increase in Illinois, the forced unionism state whose union membership rate increased the most.
Of the 26 states where the rate of union membership declined in 2013, 14 were forced unionism states and 12 were workplace freedom states.