Right-To-Work Laws and Unions: A Look at Legislative and Judicial Actions
As both public and private unions have faced continued headwinds in not just growth, but survival in the U.S., a variety of judicial and legislative challenges have merged. This includes “Right-to-Work” (RTW) laws and court battles in a number of states, including Pennsylvania.
I recently examined RTW efforts in Pennsylvania and other states for The Legal Intelligencer’s Labor and Employment Supplement. The full article, “Right to Work Initiatives: Rallying Cry for Unions or Contributor to Decline?,” is available below. Here are some key takeaways:
- RTW initiatives have weakened organized labor via legislative, judicial, and executive actions. Since the beginning of 2017, Kentucky and West Virginia have enacted RTW legislation and in February 2017, Missouri became the 28th state to enact a RTW law (though in August 2017 the law was suspended). The New Hampshire legislature recently narrowly defeated RTW legislation.
- State governors’ Executive Orders affecting the rights of government employees are used to bypass RTW legislative efforts.
Examples include Executive Orders regarding the growing home healthcare industry where direct care workers frequently give government subsidized home care and aid to aging baby boomers who do not want to enter nursing homes. Unions argue that the direct care workers are government contractors due to receipt of Medicaid or Medicare funds and have influenced many states’ governors, including Illinois and Pennsylvania, to use their executive power to establish processes to unionize home health care workers.
- On September 28, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case that demonstrates the Court’s willingness to revisit its previous decisions’ protection of unions via the First Amendment and freedom of association.