Right-to-work merely allows workers the freedom to choose union membership and pay dues or not. It does not forbid anyone from joining a union or prohibit unions from organizing. It enhances the freedom and prosperity of individuals and communities, which is why more than half of the states have passed some version of right-to-work. The Sandoval County proposed RTW ordinance does NOT impact government unions or existing union contracts.
Right-to-work is about economic development. We here in New Mexico are sitting on an island of high poverty, high unemployment and lower pay between states with significant economic growth.
Arizona’s gross domestic product rose 3.6 percent in 2017. Texas had the fastest-growing economy in the nation in the first quarter. The Utah economy saw every major industrial sector expand in 2016. Colorado’s gross domestic product jumped at an annual rate of 5.1 percent in 2016. New Mexico ranks in the bottom six overall for a fourth straight year, with the worst employment growth in the United States.
There are currently 28 right-to-work states. New Mexico is surrounded by them. Arizona, Utah and Texas are RTW states. Colorado is not a right-to-work state BUT it’s Labor Peace Law is more stringent than right-to-work laws.
Business site selectors who help businesses decide where to expand or relocate say that the majority of businesses have right-to-work on their checklist as item No. 1 or 2. The fact that business site selectors won’t consider non-RTW states is confirmed by the NERA Economic Consultants – Economic Evidence, the Sandoval Economic Alliance CEO Steve Jenkins, the Illinois Policy Report and Mark Sweeney of McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a leading business site selector.
Compare unemployment and income for neighboring states and New Mexico:
• 2017 unemployment rates: Arizona 5.1 percent, Colorado 2.4 percent, Texas 4.3 percent, Utah 3.5 percent and New Mexico 6.3 percent.
• 2017 median hourly rates: Arizona $17.05, Colorado $19.09, Texas $17.06, Utah $16.83, New Mexico $15.82.
• 2016 annual average income: Arizona $46,290, Colorado $52,710, Texas $47,770, Utah $45,490, New Mexico $44,190.
New Mexicans make $1- to $3-an-hour less and $1,300 to over $2,600 annually less than those in neighboring states.
Results from multiple studies reported by the NERA Economic Consultants — Economic Evidence Report show RTW states consistently outperformed non-RTW states in private-sector employment growth, increase in manufacturing output, and increase in real personal income.
Recently the 6th Federal Circuit Court ruled that local governments are political subdivisions of the state and therefore have the authority of the state concerning right-to-work. The local approach has already succeeded in other states. Kentucky counties have seen billions of dollars in new capital investment, and unemployment rates dropped from 6.9 percent to 4.6 percent. Right-to-work isn’t just good for employers and employees; it can be beneficial for good unions. Last year Indiana, a RTW state, added 50,000 new union members
Opponents to RTW complain about outside money supporting RTW efforts, yet the head of the NM AFL-CIO threatens lawsuits funded by the national AFL-CIO. Considering a series of failed union lawsuits in multiple states including Kentucky, wouldn’t it be better for the unions to stop wasting members union dues on lawsuits and redirect those funds to benefit union members?
Of course RTW is not the whole story when attracting new businesses. Other considerations are also important. But if a large majority of site selectors eliminate New Mexico because we’re a non-RTW state then they’ll never get to appreciate our other advantages.