In The Washington Post, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer admitted that right-to-work laws lead to lower wages for workers -- conflicting with the narrative promoted by Fox News that such laws increase wages.
In his column, Krauthammer claimed that recently passed right-to-work laws in Michigan were "inevitable" and that "the entire Rust Belt will eventually follow because the heyday of the sovereign private-sector union is gone." Krauthammer wrote that such laws could possibly bring down unemployment, but he also admitted that President Obama's statement that right-to-work laws give workers "the right to work for less money" was correct:
Principle and hypocrisy aside, however, the president's statement has some validity. Let's be honest: Right-to-work laws do weaken unions. And de-unionization can lead to lower wages.
Obama calls this a race to the bottom. No, it's a race to a new equilibrium that tries to maintain employment levels, albeit at the price of some modest wage decline. It is a choice not to be despised.
I have great admiration for the dignity and protections trade unionism has brought to American workers. I have no great desire to see the private-sector unions defenestrated.
Krauthammer is right about the wage effects of right-to-work laws. Studies have consistently found that right-to-work laws lead to lower wages and benefits for workers. The Economic Policy Institute found that right-to-work laws "are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions."
Krauthammer's admission conflicts with the narrative coming from his Fox News colleagues since the Michigan right-to-work legislation was passed:
- Fox guest Matt McCall suggested right-to-work laws bolstered wages and reduced unemployment.
- Fox News' Ailsyn Camerota twice repeated a false claim about salaries in right-to-work states when she argued that workers in these states made an average of $7,000 a year more than in non-right-to-work states.
- Fox Business' Charles Payne disagreed with the president's characterization of right-to-work laws as "you the right to work for less money," commenting that right-to-work raises compensation because "if there is a lot of prosperity, more people will have the opportunity to make a whole lot of money."