Only time can tell impact of right-to-work

Beyond the political bluster that led to protests and a premature shutdown of debate during a State Senate committee hearing, the true economic impact of the passage of a right-to-work bill in Wisconsin will not be decided until long after Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is finished.

Scott Manley, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, made the case in defense of the right-to-work bill, which will prohibit businesses and unions from reaching labor agreements that require workers to pay union dues. The Wisconsin bill would impose criminal penalties on employers that agree to contracts that require union dues.

“Beyond the free choice argument, there are compelling economic reasons why the Wisconsin Legislature should enact RTW. For example, during the ten-year period from 2004 to 2013, RTW states grew jobs at an average rate of 5.3 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than twice the rate of job growth in forced-union states (2.1 percent),” Manley said.

However, the right-to-work law will have an adverse effect on the state’s economy and will have a divisive impact on its people, according to a study by Abdur Chowdhury, Ph.D., professor in Marquette University’s Department of Economics.

Chowdhury published a report titled, “The Potential Effects of a Right-to-Work Law in Wisconsin.” He called right-to-work “a shortsighted and superficial selling point.”

Chowdhury said the potential net loss in direct income to Wisconsin workers and their families due to a right-to-work law would be between $3.89 billion and $4.82 billion annually.

“The analysis in this paper clearly indicates that the RTW legislation would lead to harmful effects to Wisconsin’s economy by lowering its capacity to provide essential public services and worsening the quality and condition of the labor force,” Chowdhury wrote in the “independent” study, which was funded by the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition.


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