Right to work is not a guarantee of employment
By Anthony J. Soukenik and Alicia Wherle, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard
Right to work has been a rapidly growing trend in recent years. In February 2017, Missouri became the 28th state to pass right to work legislation; New Hampshire debated becoming the 29th state and a federal right to work bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. But what is right to work and what does it mean for employees?
Right to work is not a guarantee of employment. Rather, it is a restriction on agreements called union security clauses. These clauses are between employers and unions and allow unions to require the payment of fees as a condition of employment. In right to work states, union security clauses are prohibited and employees are able to gain employment regardless of whether they pay union dues. They also receive the full protection of a labour agreement bargained for by the union.
The results of right to work laws vary in each state passed, but overall, some trends have been documented. First, right to work has unsurprisingly led to a decline in union operating success. Second, job growth has generally increased at a faster rate in right to work states than in non-right to work states. However, some studies note that this trend corresponds with lower wages in these states. Third, litigation filed by unions on the validity of right to work has risen greatly.
The exact future of right to work is still unclear, but as more states and the federal government debate the topic, it appears that right to work momentum will only continue to grow.
Recent Update: Right-to-work in Missouri was to become effective on August 28, 2017. However, union activists obtained more than 310,000 signatures calling for a November 2018 ballot referendum in which voters would determine the fate of right-to-work in Missouri. Supporters of the right-to-work law quickly filed suit in Missouri courts, claiming that the language of the ballot initiative was “unfair and insufficient.” A victory for right-to-work supporters in the circuit court of Cole County was quickly overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. The action was then appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court; however, the Court declined to hear the matter. Therefore, once 100,000 of the obtained signatures are verified by the Missouri Secretary of State, it will be the voters who decide whether Missouri will truly become the 28th state to adopt right-to-work.
Anthony J. SoukenikSandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, Saint Louis, MO, USA
T: +1 314 231 3332
Anthony J. Soukenik is a shareholder of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard and has previously served on the firm’s Executive Committee. Tony is a member of the Business Law Practice Group and a former Practice Group Leader. He focuses his practice on the areas of banking, construction, corporate law, durable medical equipment, estate planning, real estate and federal and state taxation.
Alicia WherleSandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, Saint Louis, MO, USA
T: +1 314 231 3332
Alicia Wherle joined Sandberg Phoenix as an associate in 2016. She focuses her practice on assisting businesses with transactional and employment legal matters.
Published: Spring 2017, updated: November 2017 l Photo: Maria - Fotolia.com