ANALYSIS: What “Right-To-Work” States Look Like

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Gov. Bruce Rauner isn’t the only Midwestern politician seeking to enact “right-to-work” legislation.

In Missouri, Republican House members are deciding whether to try to override a recent veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon of right-to-work” legislation. In Kentucky, which has a gubernatorial election in November, Republican Matt Bevin has made passing such a law a keystone of his campaign.

If right-to-work becomes the law in those two states, Illinois would be an island surrounded by right-to-work states, most of them recently adopted.


Under these laws, states have the authority to determine whether workers can be required to join a labor union to get or keep a job and whether non-union workers can receive the same benefits given to union workers without having to pay dues.


An analysis of several economic measurements illustrates that, overall, workers in right-to-work states tend to have lower wages and lower union membership rates. Also, people generally are less well-educated and have lower incomes than those in states that don’t have right-to-work laws.

These states also tend to have a higher percentage of people without health insurance and higher infant-mortality rates — indicators of the overall health of a population. The charts below plot where each state falls among these indicators:


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