Study refutes key argument against Right-to-Work

Study refutes key argument against Right-to-Work

Study refutes key argument against Right-to-Work

In just a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 and determine whether public employees may be required to pay agency fees to a government union as a condition of employment.

If the court rules in favor of plaintiff Mark Janus, it will effectively extend right-to-work protections to all public employees nationwide and allow them to make their own decisions about whether to join and financially support a union.

The case is expected to be argued in late February and decided in late June.

This week, the Freedom Foundation released a new report which formed the basis of an amicus brief also submitted by the Foundation this week to the Supreme Court in support of Janus’ position.

One of the union legal defenses of agency-fee requirements contends that they promote “labor peace” among public employees, an important government interest.

However, an analysis of two federal databases of strikes and work stoppages — one from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and one from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) — finds that states requiring public employees to pay agency-fees to government unions experience greater labor unrest than “right-to-work” states in which agency-fee requirements are banned.

The BLS data-set indicates government workers in states that allow agency-fee requirements go on strike at 27 times the rate of public employees in right-to-work (RTW) states. Examination of the larger FMCS data-set confirms these findings, indicating that, while the average number of striking employees was essentially the same, public employees in agency-fee states went on strike at more than 17 times the rate of and for twice as long as government workers in RTW states. The same general trends hold when all strikes in both the public and private sectors are examined, though the disparity between the strike rates in RTW and agency-fee states is smaller.

Additionally, analysis of Gallup survey data indicates that public employee engagement at work tends to be significantly higher in RTW states than in agency-fee states.

Consequently, as the Foundation argues in its amicus brief, the most comprehensive evidence collected to-date indicates that, should the Supreme Court decide to extend right-to-work protections to all public employees in Janus, it may do so without fear that its actions will measurably disrupt “labor peace.”

Two local economists — Moheb Ghali, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Western Washington University, and Douglas Wills, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Washington, Tacoma, joined the Foundation in filing the brief.

Copies of the full report and amicus brief are available below.

Director of Research and Government Affairs
As the Freedom Foundation’s Director of Research and Government Affairs, Maxford Nelsen leads the team working to advance the Freedom Foundation’s mission through strategic research, public policy advocacy, and labor relations. Max regularly testifies on labor issues before legislative bodies and his research has formed the basis of several briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Max’s work has been published in local newspapers around the country and in national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, National Review, and the American Spectator. His work on labor policy issues has been featured in media outlets like the New York Times, Fox News, and PBS News Hour. He is a frequent guest on local radio stations like 770 KTTH and 570 KVI. From 2019-21, Max was a presidential appointee to the Federal Service Impasses Panel within the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which resolves contract negotiation disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation in 2013, Max worked for and the Washington Policy Center and interned with the Heritage Foundation. Max holds a labor relations certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated magna cum laude from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A Washington native, he lives in Olympia with his wife and sons.