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Louisiana Right to Work Laws

A growing number of states have adopted so-called "right to work" laws that prohibit union security agreements, which are contracts between employers and unions determining the extent to which employees may be compelled to join a union. In states that have passed these laws, employees in unionized workplaces may refuse to join the union but still may enjoy the benefits of union membership, including the compensation negotiated by union officers.

Overview of Louisiana's Right to Work Law

Louisiana statute states that employees may not be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. This law effectively does away with any requirement that non-union workers pay a fee (often referred to as an "agency fee").

Additional details about Louisiana's right to work law are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Unions section to learn more.

Code Section 23:981 to 23:987
Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc. All persons shall have the right to form, join, and assist labor organizations or to refrain from such activities without fear of penalty or reprisals.
Prohibited Activity Cannot be required to become or remain member of labor organization or pay dues or fees as condition of employment; agreements between labor organization and employer.
Penalties Such agreements are unlawful, null and void, and of no legal effect; misdemeanor; fined not more than $1,000 and imprisoned for not more than 90 days; injunctive relief; recover any and all damages.

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through higher court decisions, voter-approved ballot initiatives, or the passage of new legislation. You may want to contact a Louisiana employment law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

The Right to Work Debate

In states that have not passed right to work laws, employees may still decline union membership in accordance with federal law. Meanwhile, unions are required to represent everyone in the bargaining unit, regardless of their union status, so they often require a monthly payment (less than union dues). Workers who refuse to pay this fee may be fired in states without right to work laws.

Supporters of right to work laws say it is unfair and even coercive to require someone to join a union if they don't want to. But opponents of these laws argue that they are only meant to weaken unions, since unions need paying members in order to thrive.

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