Rauner’s Local “Right to Work Empowerment Zones” Hurt Middle Class

How Bruce Rauner’s Local “Right-to-Work Empowerment Zones” Is Hurting Working Families

  • Rauner wants local governments to be able to implement “Right-to-Work” laws affecting ALL union workers in that locality.
  • “Right To Work” is a deceptive term for a program that has nothing to do with the right of a person to seek and accept gainful employment. It does not give anyone an actual right to work. Instead it makes it harder for workers to have a union set up in their workplace.
  • “Right To Work” laws set up an unfair system in which employees in a union-represented workplace can refuse to pay any union dues or fees. The intent is not to help workers, but to rob unions of resources and make it harder for them to help improve the lives of working people in our communities.
  • Laws are already in place allowing workers the freedom to chose whether or not to join a union. Unions are in workplaces because a majority of those workers have chosen union representation. All workers in the workplace benefit from the gains the union makes and the rights that the union establishes.
  • Unions help to raise the standard of living for all workers. Unions set wage and benefit standards that impel many non-union employers to provide better pay and benefits. And unions often lead the fight against big business efforts to weaken laws and regulations that help all working families, such as Social Security, workplace safety, or equal opportunity.
  • When unions are weakened and their ranks reduce, all workers suffer. The quality of life is worse in “Right To Work” states. Wages are lower, poverty levels are higher, people are less likely to have health insurance, and resources for education are lower.
  • On average, workers in states with “Right To Work” laws make $5,971 (12.2%) less annually than workers in other states. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Poverty rates are higher in states that have “Right To Work” laws. 14.8% overall and 20.2% for children, compared to overall poverty rates of 13.1% and 18.3% for children in states without these laws.
  • In January, Moody’s Analytics released an economic report for the state of Illinois. It stated that “since laws that hurt unions shift the balance of power from employees to owners, they tend to erode wages and lead to a more uneven distribution of the gains of economic growth.”
  • From the University of Illinois report: “When isolated and measured against other job creation variables, right to work has no proven record of stimulating meaningful economic growth. By comparison, Illinois would reap far greater economic benefts by increasing its investment in education and skilled-based training.”
  • Right To Work laws are just another way for corporations to knock the bottom rung off the economic ladder that people use to climb into the middle class.

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