Ron Paul: “Right to Work” Is Good for Business, Labor and Liberty

by Ron Paul

Many observers were surprised when Michigan, historically a stronghold of union power, became the nation’s 24th “Right to Work” state. The backlash from November’s unsuccessful attempt to pass a referendum forbidding the state from adopting a right to work law was a major factor in Michigan’s rejection of compulsory unionism. The need for drastic action to improve Michigan’s economy, which is suffering from years of big government policies, also influenced many Michigan legislators to support right to work.

Let us be clear: right to work laws simply prohibit coercion. They prevent states from forcing employers to operate as closed union shops, and thus they prevent unions from forcing individuals to join. In many cases right to work laws are the only remedy to federal laws which empower union bosses to impose union dues as a condition of employment.

Right to work laws do not prevent unions from bargaining collectively with employers, and they do not prevent individuals from forming or joining unions if they believe it will benefit them. Despite all the hype, right to work laws merely enforce the fundamental right to control one’s own labor.

States with right to work laws enjoy greater economic growth and a higher standard of living than states without such laws. According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, from 2001-2011 employment in right to work states grew by 2.4%, while employment in union states fell by 3.4%! During the same period wages rose by 12.5% in right to work states, while rising by a mere 3.1% in union states. Clearly, “Right to Work” is good for business and labor.

Workers are best served when union leaders have to earn their membership and dues by demonstrating the benefits they provide. Instead, unions use government influence and political patronage. The result is bad laws that force workers to subsidize unions and well-paid union bosses.

Of course government should not regulate internal union affairs, or interfere in labor disputes for the benefit of employers. Government should never forbid private-sector workers from striking. Employees should be free to join unions or not, and employers should be able to bargain with unions or not. Labor, like all goods and services, is best allocated by market forces rather than the heavy, restrictive hand of government. Voluntarism works.

Federal laws forcing employees to pay union dues as a condition of getting or keeping a job are blatantly unconstitutional. Furthermore, Congress does not have the moral authority to grant a private third party the right to interfere in private employment arrangements. No wonder polls report that 80 percent of the American people believe compulsory union laws need to be changed.

Unions’ dirty little secret is that real wages cannot rise unless productivity rises. American workers cannot improve their standard of living simply by bullying employers with union tactics. Instead, employers, employees, and unions must recognize that only market mechanisms can signal employment needs and wage levels in any industry. Profits or losses from capital investment are not illusions that can be overcome by laws or regulations; they are real-world signals that directly affect wages and employment opportunities. Union advocates can choose to ignore reality, but they cannot overcome the basic laws of economics.

As always, the principle of liberty will provide the most prosperous society possible. Right to work laws are a positive step toward economic liberty.


  • Your point is reasonable, and it has been addressed by many libertarians. Most believe that a “right-to-work” law is the least-bad alternative, since most of the time companies will not voluntarily enter into a closed-shop.

    Also, contract law recognizes that some contracts are valid and others aren’t. Govt doesn’t enforce contracts where a person sells himself into slavery; govt doesn’t enforce contracts where businesses agree to price collusion. Should govt enforce a contract to a closed-shop?

  • first of all, germany is booming, secondly china doesn’t have to do shit, all they have to do is artificially inflate their currency while continuing to exploit low wage labor and they have a nice little magic check book

    europe has a better education system, less debt and higher standard of living than the US

    facts suck, don’t they?

  • Unions are mostly government institutions. The large majority of unions are in the public sector, so closed union shops are indeed government initiations of force.

  • They sure are! My approach which is more of a centrist Libertarian approach is actually at odds with Dr. Paul’s stance, which I think is a little misleading. I find the misleading position of Dr. Paul strange in this instance because he rarely comes off as misleading. I posted a short description of my opinion of Right to Work (from a centrist Libertarian position.) I know Dr. Paul is a little more conservative Libertarian than I am, but I still respect the man and consider him my President!

  • I am a Ron Paul supporter, but I disagree with his position on this issue. I don’t think the government should be able to dictate the terms on which Unions and Employers may collectively bargain. I don’t believe Unions should be protected by the government, but I don’t think they should be infringed either. If the Union and Employers VOLUNTARILY agree to a ‘closed shop business plan’ then the charter which lays out this rule should be upheld in the court of law. Sorry Ron, I gotta disagree!

  • Ron Paul approach to this issue and Fox New approach to this issue are two different things.

  • YAY!!! RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT!!! dont really consider obama a president, more like a puppet!

  • Ive been running into this quit a bit and Its a waist of time, Its like an IQ block, a firewall if you will. Whats left after the shtf will be the dividing line.Thanks to the feds showing their true colors more are waking to reality. The troll is losing or it wouldn’t be here.

  • Ron Paul’s voice sounds bad ass against some chill techno music

  • Ron Paul’s voice sounds bad ass against some chill techno music

  • You “blame” the govt for making sure that poor people have food? What kind of asshole are you? Wal Mart does not pay their employees an adequate wage so they have to turn to the social safety net to survive. Apparently you would prefer huge profits for WalMart shareholders while employees starve. You are a fucking asshole.

  • No, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and stupidity is in the ‘mind’ of the Paultard.

  • The “man” is a crackpot, a snake oil salesman and you’re his customer. He’s got you coming and going and you refuse to see the absolute futility of trying to convince anyone with a three digit IQ he is qualified to be anything other than a bathroom attendant!
    You should go home…..your village is missing it’s idiot!

  • u an intellectual? can u explain the intellect of your actions to spend your valuable time to hate on others? you a professional hater? or u just on the brink of killing yourself u need to vent?

  • The man is a genius…you’re just a dumb (_o_) try listening.

  • Here is what I told the unions when they tried to unionize our plant….
    “So you’re telling me I’ll have to take a pay cut, and I’ll have to pay you for it?”

  • u obviously never read a philosophy book or took a critical thinking class u honky

  • lol, the truth is in the eye of the beholder. believe what u like

  • “Intellectual argument”? An intellectual (me) doesn’t argue, but a booger eating retard (you) must argue in order to justify his ignorance of the concept of reality.
    In this regard, you certainly take the blue ribbon!

  • well done. troll. try and provide an argument.. Insults is the last refuge of those who have no intellectual argument