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  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The energy industry’s insatiable thirst for water threatens First Nations’ treaty-protected rights June 21, 2017
    Our latest report looks at the growing concerns that First Nations in British Columbia have with the fossil fuel industry’s increasing need for large volumes of water for natural gas fracking operations. Titled Fracking, First Nations and Water: Respecting Indigenous rights and better protecting our shared resources, it describes what steps should be taken to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

“Right to Work” Laws and Jobs

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak claims that passage of an anti union “right to work” (RTW) law (making mandatory union dues illegal) would create jobs, especially in hard-hit manufacturing.

With companies like Caterpillar moving to get ever cheaper labour, it seems semi plausible that anti union laws might attract footloose new investment , albeit at the expense of workers. US studies show a significant negative impact of about $1500 per year on wages in RTW states.

But US experience, in fact, shows that trends in overall employment, including in manufacturing, vary widely among both RTW and non RTW states, and that there is no consistent pattern linked to RTW laws. Basically labour law is only one modest factor among many influencing the  production and investment decisions of firms.

A study by Gordon Lafer and Sylvia Allegretto for the Economic Policy Institute finds that manufacturing employment in Oklahoma fell precipitously – by about one third – in the decade after that state adopted a right to work law in 2001. This is especially telling since Oklahoma was the only US state to switch to RTW status in recent years (not counting Indiana which has just adopted a RTW law.)

A methodologically sophisticated study by Michael Hicks, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, finds no significant link between RTW laws and manufacturing employment trends.

A telling factoid for this debate is that RTW North Carolina – which has the lowest unionization rate in the US at just 4.1% – has lost one third of its manufacturing jobs over the past decade, and currently has a well above average unemployment rate of 9.4%.

Meanwhile, non RTW Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, which have significant high tech industries, all have well above US average unionization rates (15.4%, 13.5% and  12.5%) and well below average unemployment rates (6.0%, 4.7% and 5.1%.)

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Comments

Comment from Hamiltonian
Time: August 11, 2012, 6:04 am

A good discussion should be on which industries should Canada be looking to attract.

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