Franklin Roosevelt was still president when Florida became the first state to embrace right-to-work laws, enshrining the concept in the state constitution in 1944. Today, 27 other states have followed Florida’s lead to create a more inviting work environment for their citizens. Employees in these 28 states are free to work without being compelled to join a union — and more importantly, without being forced to affiliate with and support an organization that may advocate views they oppose.
The unions will tell you how right-to-work laws are harmful to both workers and the economy. I can tell you that they are wrong, and Florida is the proof.
One of the biggest cases the Supreme Court will hear this year is Janus v. American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) — a case that could change the way unions operate in the United States. Labor organizations around the country fret that the case could overturn a 40-year-old decision that allowed states without right-to-work legislation to continue requiring union fees for all employees, even those who didn’t want any part of a union.
Labor unions once transformed the way workers were treated, setting new standards for health, safety, and fair working conditions. In their time, unions served an important purpose, but they have morphed into something reminiscent of the movie "The Godfather" because they do not allow anyone to “go against the family.” Moreover, numerous laws, a changing and dynamic economy, and competition for business among the states have all but eliminated the rationale behind labor unions.
But that hasn’t stopped public sector union bosses from trying to maintain their vise grip on the paychecks of the very men and women they purport to represent. This is wrong, and we hope the Supreme Court will finally put an end to this sanctioned institutional extortion.
The James Madison Institute, Florida’s leading free-market think tank, enjoys a birds-eye view of a state, its workers, and its economy flourishing under a right-to-work standard. Florida’s economic prosperity should serve as an abject lesson for other states and their public employees. That’s why we filed an amicus brief in support of petitioner Mark Janus, whose First Amendment rights are being violated by the politically driven labor unions he has been compelled to subsidize.
Florida’s economy is extraordinarily vibrant — in fact, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently crowned it as Number 1 in fiscal solvency. We have increasing annual job growth rates and a low unemployment rate that has fallen 16 percent faster than the national average since 2010. Our state produces a GDP about the same as that of Indonesia, a nation whose workforce is 12 times the size.
In short, our right-to-work state is working. Floridians, regardless of station in life, have the freedom to pursue their dreams of economic opportunity and prosperity as they see fit — without having to join a union. Right to work succeeds here, and other states are seeing the same progress — consider Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, which saw significant drops in unemployment and an influx of new businesses moving to the state after implementing right-to-work laws.
Contrast this with Illinois, the home state of petitioner Mark Janus. There, the economy is falling behind the national average and job growth rates are snail-paced. Illinois currently leads the nation in the out-migration of its citizens. Yet, demanding unions have rallied together in support of the labor movement’s push to maintain its precious (and entirely unconstitutional) required fees all the while driving up the cost of doing business.
A favorable ruling from the Supreme Court will give employees everywhere the same rights as those in right-to-work states. The correct outcome in this case will be a monumental step forward in the effort to bring better working conditions, increased job growth and opportunity, and stronger economies to more states and more American workers.
Dr. Robert McClure provides expert perspective on current issues facing our nation and his home state of Florida, the third-largest state in the nation and a policy bellwether for the country. Recently named one of the Most Influential People in Florida Politics, Dr. McClure serves as the President and CEO of The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank. He is a frequent commentator on television and talk radio programs and has lectured nationally on diverse policy issues. Dr. McClure has been published numerous times at both the state and national level on topics including property rights, tax policy, health care, and education reform. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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