People from the Cowboy State work hard - and not just as cowboys. From our mineral and mining industry to the agriculture sector, Wyoming employees put in the work that makes the Mountain West go. And while we generally don’t mind our bosses, the employer-employee relationship can get testy.
In some cases, we’ve turned to unions to act on behalf of workers when negotiating with management. Nationally, union members accounted for 11.3 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2013, the same as in 2012. A recent trend, meanwhile, has seen many states passing laws that affect the way unions, employees, and employers work together. This is a brief summary of what are known as “right-to-work” laws in Wyoming.
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 Wyoming's Right to Work Law
Wyoming law states that employees may not be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. Additional details about Wyoming's right to work law are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Unions section to learn more.
|Code Section||27-7-109, et seq.|
|Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc.||No person is required to become a member of a labor organization or abstain therefrom as a condition of employment.|
|Prohibited Activity||Requirement of membership or nonmembership or payment of dues as a condition of employment; requirement of connection with or approval from labor union.|
|Penalties||Misdemeanor; damages sustained; injunctive relief; fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail not to exceed 6 months or both.|
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 Wyoming employment law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the 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.
Research the Law
Wyoming Right to Work Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.