New Jersey state Assembly members Robert Auth (R-Bergen) and Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) introduced a bill to allow workers in the state to opt out of union membership.
Assembly Bill 183 was introduced in January and referred to the Assembly’s Labor Committee, where it awaits consideration. Currently, 28 states and one U.S. territory have right-to-work (RTW) laws, which free workers from having to join unions as a condition of employment.
Competition for Business, Jobs
Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says a worker-freedom law would encourage business owners to expand operations in New Jersey instead of neighboring states.
“New Jersey is surrounded by non-RTW states,” Vedder said. “New Jersey would be at an especially robust advantage because when people are talking about where they are going to locate a company, they’re not considering New Jersey versus Wyoming. They’re usually considering New Jersey versus New York or New Jersey versus Pennsylvania. They want to be in a certain part of the country.”
People are migrating from forced-unionism states to states with RTW laws, Vedder says.
“Right-to-work states are growing faster than the non-right-to-work states,” Vedder said. “They’re getting more in-migration into those states. The non-RTW states are having out-migration, and New Jersey is a good example. More people are leaving New Jersey than are migrating in.”
‘Better for Everyone’
Erica Jedynak, director of the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says pro-growth policies such as RTW help everyone.
“More economic growth is better for everyone,” Jedynak said. “Frankly, New Jersey was one of the last states to come back up from the recession and has long struggled with higher unemployment than the rest of the region.”
RTW would be an easy way to spur economic revitalization in New Jersey, Vedder says.
“One thing they can do is enact a right-to-work law, which costs essentially nothing to implement,” Vedder said. “They can do that, and they’re likely to get some enhancement in the rate of economic growth. They’re likely to get businesses who were thinking of different locations to give New Jersey consideration.”
Benefits for Union Members
Jedynak says worker-freedom laws also benefit union members.
“We have seen in other states where right-to-work has gone through and is now the law of the land, unions are held more accountable to their members,” Jedynak said. “Suddenly, they have to be more competitive and actually show why one should join a union.”
Editor’s Note: This article was published in partnership with The Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News newspaper. BTN’s managing editor is Jesse Hathaway and BTN’s senior editor is S.T. Karnick.
Lindsey Curnutte writes from Athens, Ohio.