Right-to-Work is wrong for Delaware

The News Journal | Opinion | by Democratic Members of the House Labor Committee

If it’s the start of a legislative session, then it means that Republicans are dusting off a tried-and-proven-untrue solution to bolster our economy. Much like the movie “Groundhog Day,” we seem destined to repeatedly push back against a popular Republican policy idea that has the most ironic nickname: Right-to-Work.

Make no mistake, Right-to-Work legislation is anything but. These laws directly affect our neighbors who work as teachers, police, government employees, and construction workers by weakening and removing the ability to bargain collectively for health insurance coverage, safe workplaces, and retirement benefits.

Why does it affect these workers? These policies allow people to reap the benefits of union membership without having to join a union or pay dues. It is like your neighbor who doesn’t pay their civic association dues for snow removal year-after-year but enjoys the benefits of getting the development’s streets plowed.

It is important to remember that there are many factors – workforce, education system, transportation infrastructure, etc. – that contribute to a state’s economic growth. Regrettably, in spite of the data, Republicans throughout the country repeatedly tout this legislation as a silver-bullet, job-creating initiative. When you go beyond the rhetoric and conduct rigorous academic analysis, the data show that these anti-worker laws really do not create jobs. For example, the state of Oklahoma passed a Right-to-Work law. A 2011 study showed that job growth began to decline and consistently declined after the law passed.

Similar, rigorous, economic and academic analyses show identical results in other states. A 2014 report from the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency of Congress, showed there is no conclusive evidence proving Right-to-Work laws spur job growth or reduce unemployment. The CRS did find hard evidence that shows average wages are $7,000 lower per person in Right-to-Work states than in states that respect the role of unions. That is a huge hit for families when every dollar counts.

Most recently, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives rejected Right-to-Work legislation, so there is hope that lawmakers across the aisle understand the negative impact that this proposal would have on workers and their families.

We believe that a strong, vibrant middle class is essential to a healthy Delaware economy. When the middle class has quality jobs with good wages and stable benefits, everyone does better. Families are better able to provide for their children and save for college. They have more disposable income to spend at local businesses, which boosts the economy. All of this means more revenue coming into the state while fewer residents rely on state services.

This is why it’s important to call out misnomers like Right-to-Work. We will continue to stand against such Right-to-Work proposals and push for a comprehensive approach and sustainable ideas to help the middle class and move Delaware’s economy forward.

Michael P. Mulrooney, Edward S. Osienski, Gerald L. Brady, Stephanie T. Bolden, David Bentz, James Johnson, Helene M. Keeley, John A. Kowalko, Sean Matthews, and Kimberly A. Williams are all Delaware State Representatives and House Labor Committee members.

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Posted in Opinion Articles.