March 9, 2022
RALEIGH — As North Carolina reaches the 75th anniversary of its right-to-work law, now is a great time to strengthen the state’s protection against forced labor unionization. A new John Locke Foundation report calls on policymakers to add right-to-work provisions to the N.C. Constitution.
“States with right-to-work laws enjoy lower unemployment rates, higher job growth, and higher wage and income growth compared with forced union states. Right-to-work laws are decidedly pro-worker,” according to the report authored by F. Vincent Vernuccio, president of the Institute for the American Worker. Vernuccio is also strategic adviser to the Mackinac Center and Workers for Opportunity.
North Carolina reaches the right-to-work anniversary milestone in March. “A majority of states (27) currently protect worker freedom, with nine of those states enshrining their law in their constitution. North Carolina should become the 10th,” Vernuccio writes.
“There’s no moral justification for North Carolina workers to be forced to pay a union in order to keep their job,” said Brian Balfour, Locke senior vice president of research. “Protecting North Carolinians’ right to work the past 75 years has improved the lives of workers via more jobs and bigger paychecks. On this 75th anniversary, state legislators should consider strengthening this worker protection in the state constitution.”
“The right to work free from being compelled to join or otherwise pay fees to a union is a critical component of a free society,” Vernuccio writes. “Labor unions have no justification infringing on a worker’s agreement with an employer with demands to submit a portion of one’s salary to the union’s coffers.”
Recent events make North Carolina’s focus on worker freedom even more important, Vernuccio warns.
“With the surprise election of Glenn Youngkin as governor, Virginia staved off growing momentum of the labor movement’s attempt to overturn that state’s right-to-work law,” he writes. “And while North Carolina’s right-to-work law may seem safe, make no mistake that labor movement leaders would like nothing better than to overturn worker freedom in a southeastern state. With their recent failure in Virginia, they may direct their attention and resources to North Carolina next.”
“It is simply unfair for unions to demand payment for workers as a condition of employment,” Vernuccio adds. “A right-to-work law protects workers against such compulsion. The time is now for North Carolina to solidify its right- to-work law in the state constitution. Otherwise, we may be just one election away from it being overturned.”
The report is titled “Pro-Worker, Pro-Growth: Making Right-To-Work Permanent in North Carolina.” Vernuccio examines the history of right-to-work laws, links between pro-union policies and discrimination, and current threats to worker freedom in North Carolina and other states. His report explores the impact of government unions. He explains the positive economic impact for workers in right-to-work states.
“In the end, right-to-work is about one thing: freedom,” Vernuccio concludes. “It protects workers by taking away a union’s ability to get them fired for not paying union dues. Still, the economic benefits that right-to-work states and the workers in those states experience cannot be understated. Workers in right-to-work states have more income growth, lower unemployment, and higher job growth.”
Now is the time for policymakers to move forward with legislation that would allow voters to enshrine right-to-work safeguards in the N.C. Constitution. “North Carolina is currently in a good position to protect workers. As with everything in politics, however, things can change,” Vernuccio writes. “Policymakers should not assume that the state will always be as worker-friendly as it is today and should therefore move to make worker freedom a constitutional right in North Carolina.”
This Monday at 12 pm, Locke will host a special online forum on the many benefits of North Carolina’s right-to-work law.