The Washington Free Beacon reports that legislators in the Pennsylvania legislature want to bring right-to-work to their state, citing its passage in Indiana and Michigan and the need for job growth and desire to attract businesses.
Six GOP lawmakers on (Jan. 22) introduced a proposal to make Pennsylvania, the “Keystone State,” the nation’s 25th right-to-work state.
The legislation, which would end the longstanding practice of forcing employees to join unions as a condition of work, has stalled several times over the past decade. The bill’s sponsors say new laws in Michigan and Indiana forced the state’s hand.
“The needs of our economy dictate that it must be adopted at some point in time,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe. “The victory of right-to-work in Michigan and Indiana certainly thrust the spotlight on it and made the General Assembly look it more seriously than the past.”
Pennsylvania is one of the most heavily unionized states in the country with more than 700,000 workers belonging to organized labor groups. That is nearly 100,000 more union members than in Michigan.
The advent of right-to-work in the traditionally labor-friendly Midwest and Rust Belt has left policymakers scrambling to catch up, said Nate Benefield, director of policy analysis at the free-market Commonwealth Foundation.
“Indiana and Michigan are states that we directly compete with,” he said. “We’re going to have to evolve to remain competitive and it’s also a great opportunity for us to outcompete the northeast.”
If Pennsylvania passes right-to-work, it will be the first state to do so in the northeast. That could give it an economic advantage over neighboring New York and New Jersey, which lead the nation in union membership as a percentage of the workforce, advocates of right to work legislation said.
“We’re playing catch-up to Indiana and Michigan, but our immediate neighbors, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland are even less competitive than Pennsylvania is,” Benefield said. “I think right-to-work is a big part to improving our business climate.”
Restricting the use of compulsory union dues also could deal a blow to union influence.