One of the most controversial issues in labor law today are the so-called “right to work” laws. How right to work laws are regulated varies by state, but generally they prohibit union membership from being a requirement for employment or, said another way, forbid both unions and employers from denying a non-union employee a job just because of his or her non-union status.
Approximately half of U.S. states have these laws. Connecticut is not a “right to work” state. The research appears to be divided as to the outcomes of right-to-work laws, although there are pluses and minuses on both sides. Whether right-to-work legislation directly hurts or helps a state's economy is still up for debate.
Proponents and Opponents of Right-to-Work Laws
Proponents of right to work laws claim that employees have the right to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support unions. States with right to work laws have had more business growth, as demonstrated by all new auto plants built in the United States in the early 2000s were built in right-to-work states.
Unions and many worker-rights organizations don’t support the “right to work” laws. For unions, the self-interest is clear, if people don’t have to join unions as part of a job, maybe they won’t. Those individuals may hope that others keep the union going so that they can “free-load” themselves into having the same benefits without the cost.
For low-income worker rights activists, research does suggest that states with unions have higher rates of pay and more benefits than states without unions. This includes fewer business offering health and other benefits. While businesses can be increased in right-to-work states, the gains generally go to the employers while the employees received fewer benefits.
Changing the Status Quo
Again, Connecticut doesn’t currently have any statutory provisions, constitutional amendments, or other laws about limiting employers and unions from working together to require workers join a union. If you want to change the law in Connecticut, you should organize with other like-minded individuals. This is true whether you want a right-to-work form of law or a law prohibiting this type of law from being enacted. Either way, it’s a good idea to speak with your local representatives, consult with a professional lobbyist, and possibly a non-profit organization lawyer to create a legal entity for your cause.
Note: State laws are constantly being updated. It’s important to confirm the accuracy of any laws you are reviewing by either conducting your own legal research or asking a knowledgeable Connecticut employment attorney.
Research the Law
Contact a qualified attorney.