UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, Fox News' America's Newsroom aired a similar graphic, but changed the labeling.
A Fox News graphic compared so-called “right-to-work” laws to states with “Forced-Unionism.” But workers in states that have not passed right-to-work laws are not forced into unions.
On the December 10 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor John Fund claimed that right-to-work laws similar to the one recently passed in Michigan have benefitted workers and state economies, despite evidence showing that these laws do not increase employment and lead to lower wages. During the segment, Fox News aired a graphic contrasting states who have passed right-to-work laws with “forced-unionism” states:
But workers in states without right-to-work laws are not forced into unions. In a 2011 post for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, economist Dean Baker pointed out that workers always have a choice whether to work for a union, whether or not their state has passed right-to-work laws:
“Right to work” is a great name from the standpoint of proponents, just like the term “death tax” is effective for opponents of the estate tax, but it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. It is widely believed that in the absence of right-to-work laws workers can be forced to join a union. This is not true. Workers at any workplace always have the option as to whether or not to join a union.
Right-to-work laws prohibit contracts that require that all the workers who benefit from union representation to pay for union representation. In states without right-to-work laws unions often sign contracts that require that all the workers in a bargaining unit pay a representation fee to the union that represents the bargaining unit.
The Maine Center for Economic Policy similarly found that the laws are “not needed to protect nonunion workers” because federal laws already protect workers from being forced into joining a union:
Right-to-work laws are essentially unfair. If Maine passed a right-to-work law, nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a “free ride.” They would receive the benefits of union representation, in terms of job protections, wages and benefits, without paying for any of the costs.
A right-to-work law is not needed to protect nonunion workers. Several federal laws already protect the rights of nonunion employees in unionized workplaces, such as the NLRB vs. General Motors Supreme Court decision in 1963, and the Communication Workers vs. Beck decision of 1988. Under federal labor law, workers cannot be legally required to join a union as part of a collective bargaining contract.
UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, Fox News' America's Newsroom aired a similar graphic, but changed the labeling. In the new version of the map states that have not passed right-to-work laws were identified as “Non-Right-To-Work-State” instead of the misleading “Forced-Unionism” state.