Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, sent all legislators a letter Nov. 30, adding to the growing chorus of conservative groups pressuring the Republican-controlled Legislature to jam through a right-to-work bill in the lame duck session this month.A "right to work" law doesn't actually get anyone work or give them any right other than free representation at the expense of their coworkers; in no state is anyone required to join a union to have a job, but in free bargaining states, people in union workplaces pay a fee to cover the direct costs of representing them. As Dean Baker has argued, this amounts to a tax on union membership. By creating such free-riders, the law weakens unions and gives employers more power. That's one big reason a 2011 briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute found that:
"This is one of the most important steps you can take to jumpstart the state's economy, boost employment, and spur population growth," Norquist wrote in a letter to legislators obtained by The Detroit News.
Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic variables as well as state macroeconomic indicators. Using the average wage in non-RTW states as the base ($22.11), the average full-time, full-year worker in an RTW state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state.Employer-provided health coverage and pensions are also less common in these states. And of course low pay and disappearing benefits, not any new rights or new jobs, are why people like Grover Norquist—and groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity—really support "right to work."