Recently I was asked by IBEW Local 415 my opinion on Wyoming’s “Right to Work” law. Below is my response to them.
Prior to running for office in this election I had not critically thought about Wyoming’s “Right-to-Work” law and its effect on employees. Since being asked my opinion on this law I have attempted to do some research in order to best formulate an opinion and provide an answer to this question. As you can imagine, my research generated more questions for me than it did definitive opinions but I will do my best to share what I now believe so that you will have a better sense of how I would conduct myself as a legislator.
I’ll start with what I believe. I believe that unions provide a valuable service to employees both in terms of negotiating work conditions and compensation. This function of unions has been tremendously valuable in our history of ensuring that workplaces are safer and employees are fairly compensated. Unions also provide a very valuable service of representing employees during disputes. Without unions, an employee is at a disadvantage because they most likely cannot afford the risk of losing their job and probably do not have the resources to fight for their rights. Unions help to equalize the balance of power. I also have an issue with freeloaders benefiting from unions while not paying dues because they know that everyone else will pay the dues and they can get away with it. To me this is inherently wrong and unfair to the dues paying members and compromises the ability of unions to continue to exist and provide representation to workers.
The question of whether Wyoming’s “Right-to-Work” law benefits the workforce is a bit more complex. From what I have been able to determine with my limited research, this law both hurts and potentially helps the workforce in Wyoming, but without more research I could not definitively say which it does more of. It hurts the workforce in that it makes it more difficult for employees to unionize and for unions to remain viable organizations. It potentially benefits the workforce if by having this law it creates a more business friendly climate that leads to job creation for the workforce. It also benefits the subset of the workforce that values their freedom to not join a union over the benefits that the union provides.
Given what I have learned I am open to the idea of repealing Wyoming’s “Right-to-Work” law. This means I would need to do a lot more research to better understand the benefits to the workforce and the impact to the business community and determine if the benefits of repealing the law would outweigh the disadvantages. I would also need to talk with my constituents to share what I had learned and better understand their desires and concerns in regards to repealing this law. My research would involve talking to labor groups, such as IBEW, industry groups, looking at research by independent groups such as universities, and consulting with economists.
Although I have written a long winded response and in the end did not give a definitive answer, I am extremely open to learning more about the impact of Wyoming’s “Right-to-Work” law on the workforce and why it should be repealed and/or amended.