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Immigration & Unions "Right to work" Laws Labor Glossary

"Right to work" States

» Is your school in one of the following states?
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming.

» If so, you are running a campaign in a "Right to work" state!
Thanks to anti-union labor laws, it is even more difficult for workers in your community to organize for a voice at work (as if current U.S. labor law isn't bad enough!).

» What does "Right to work" mean?
So-called “Right to Work” laws don’t actually guarantee any rights. Instead they block workers right to organize by making it extremely difficult to organize and sustain a union.

» Definition: “Right-to-work” means that even after workers win union representation, employees in the same workplace can choose whether or not to join the union and pay dues, but the union must provide the same services and benefits to all workers regardless of whether they’re actually a member.

» Consequences: This means that unions are forced to represent many workers who are not dues-paying members, and therefore the union is stretched far too thin with too little cash. It also means that unions need to constantly talk with newly hired employees and others who don't join the union from it's start in order to maintain power and membership in the workplace. About 22 states have “right-to-work” laws on the books. These states are mostly in the south, which is a major cause of weakened unions in the south. Because these laws diminish the power of workers to organize effect workers, they are often refered to as "right-to-work-for-less" laws.

- So, how do we deal with "Right to work" laws in our campus campaigns? -

Be honest with workers! If campus workers want to organize, be honest about the risks and challenges of organizing a union in your state. Strategize about how you will overcome these challenges together. Since new hirees will not automatically join the union, it's essential that pro-union workers are prepared to continually talk about the union and organize these hirees before the employer can intimidate or brainwash them.

Strategize with a union from the beginning! Unions in "right to work" states have developed various creative ways to deal with anti-union laws. So, ideally, before you make your own plans you should be familiar with the plans and common strategies of local unions who might eventually organize the workers you're supporting.

Have more advice about dealing with "Right to work" and other anti-union laws in a student-worker solidarity campaign? Please let us know at lwac(at)livingwageaction.org

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