An attentive crowd gathered yesterday for “The State of Labor” panel discussion, co-hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. The guest speakers included Heritage’s Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics, James Sherk; CEI Editorial Director and Labor Policy Analyst Ivan Osorio; Timothy Lee, Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs at the Center of Individual Freedom; and Brett McMahon, Vice President for Business Development at Miller and Long Inc.
The panelists discussed the state of organized labor in both the private and public sector; focusing heavily on Michigan, the state to most recently pass right-to-work legislation. In essence, right-to-work laws enforce an employee’s right to freedom of association by forbidding mandatory union membership as a tenant of employment; workers have a right to chose to support the union. The labor experts affirm that freedom of association is economically as good for the state as it is for the employees. Michigan transplant, James Sherk put it:
Why is right to work a big deal for Michigan economically? We find that right to work states are much more attractive for businesses. Union organizing goes down when employees have the choice to opt out of supporting a cause they don’t support; and companies are far less likely to end up like Hostess – and so many other great American companies [driven out of business by a union].