A new study released by the Economic Policy Institute is showing the damage caused by recent Right to Work laws in Ohio’s neighboring states, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Unlike Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota that have collective bargaining rights, these new RTW states have suffered from slower wage growth since RTW was enacted—which has translated to a loss of real income for middle class families.
The study is eye opening since defenders of right to work have long claimed RTW laws attract business and increase jobs—not reduce wages.
But researchers from the University of Illinois and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute both conclude that since these laws were enacted, workers in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin earned 8 percent less per hour than their counterparts in Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio. The average wage in the right to work grouping is $22.34 an hour; in the bargaining states, it’s $24.29 per hour on average.
The research focused on the years from 2010-1016 when all three states became RTW states. The study also found that the rate of unionization in these states has dropped and is now 2.1 percentage points lower than the three collective bargaining states in the study.
Construction workers in RTW states have been particularly hit hard. Their earnings lag 5.9 percent behind those in the three free bargaining states.
The study researchers concluded: “By reducing unionization, RTW has helped to redistribute income from middle-class workers to the wealthy, boosting owner income by 2 percent with “little ‘trickle-down’ to the largely non-unionized workforce.”
Ohio lawmakers have introduced two right to work bills, House Bill 53 for public sector employees and House Bill 113 private sector workers. Neither bill has had first hearings, but OCSEA will remain vigilant in case they begin to move.
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