New York and 'Right-to-Work' Laws
Statutes most commonly called "right-to-work" laws prohibit employers from excluding job applicants (or discriminating against current employees) who choose not to join the union. But non-union workers are still entitled to the same salary and terms negotiated by the union, and may even require union representation in some cases.
Several states have passed these laws eliminating union membership requirements, but not New York. Typically, this means union membership (and payment of monthly dues) may be required for employees whose compensation and other terms have been negotiated by the union.
Right to Work Laws in General
States that have passed right to work laws include Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan. In these and other states with similar laws, union membership is not a condition of employment at a company that has a collective bargaining agreement in place. While employees technically are not required to be union members to work a unionized job in any state, those in states without right to work laws are required to pay dues because they enjoy the benefits paid for by union members.
Proponents of these laws argue that it's unfair to require union membership and payment of dues, that it should be voluntary. Much of the debate is centered on the political activity of unions, which officially endorse candidates and spend money (from dues payments) on candidates and political ads. Opponents charge that right-to-work laws are intended to decrease union membership, and that it's unfair to expect the benefits of union membership without contributing financially.
Federal Protection of Unions
Generally, unions are regulated at the federal level by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was created by passage of the National Labor Relations Act. This establishes rules and procedures for businesses and labor organizations that wish to enter into collective bargaining agreements, while prohibiting certain types of "union busting" activity.
See the following links and related resources to learn more about unions and right-to-work laws. Visit FindLaw's Unions section for additional articles.
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Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a New York employment law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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New York Right to Work Laws: Related Resources
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