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Right to work is right for Montana

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

There will be a hearing this Friday, February 17th on the "Worker Freedom Act" in Montana.

House Bill 448 would make Montana a right to work state. What does this mean? Essentially, the government cannot force you to be part of a union to have a job.

More than half the states are right to work states, including Montana's neighbors Idaho and Wyoming.

In Janus v. AFSCME, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the rights of workers not to be forced to join a union and pay union dues. The majority ruling said a requirement to do so amounts to compulsory speech.

"Neither an agency fee nor any other pay­ ment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed."

The benefits of right to work laws are clear. Consider some of the stats compiled by Bloomberg Law.

From Bloomberg's analysis:

"When all 27 right-to-work states are counted together, the average hourly earnings in 2018 were $25.78 for union workers and $20.92 for a nonunion worker. In other words, for every dollar a nonunion worker earned, a union member earned $1.23. That’s a bigger relative gap, not smaller, than the national average.
Meanwhile, in the 23 non-right-to-work states and the District of Columbia, union workers’ average hourly wage in 2018 was $28.26 and nonunion workers’ was $25.14, which means that union members earned only $1.12 for every dollar earned by nonunion workers. That wage gap is four cents smaller than the national average.
Of course, it should be noted that, dollar-for-dollar, union workers in non-right-to-work states are out-earning their counterparts in right-to-work states by a healthy margin ($28.26 to $25.78). But then, it’s also important to consider the predominance of Northeast and West Coast states among the non-right-to-work ranks, where overall wages are traditionally higher than in the rest of the country."

As we mentioned previously, union membership has been on the decline in the United States - reaching its lowest level ever this past year.

In the end, if employees want to voluntarily join a union, that should be their decision. But the government shouldn't force them to do so to keep their job.

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