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  • Help us build a better Ontario September 14, 2017
    If you live in Ontario, you may have recently been selected to receive our 2017 grassroots poll on vital issues affecting the province. Your answers to these and other essential questions will help us decide what issues to focus on as we head towards the June 2018 election in Ontario. For decades, the CCPA has […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Does the Site C dam make economic sense for BC? August 31, 2017
    Today CCPC-BC senior economist Marc Lee submitted an analysis to the BC Utilities Commission in response to their consultation on the economics of the Site C dam. You can read it here. In short, the submission discussses how the economic case for Site C assumes that industrial demand for electricity—in particular for natural gas extraction […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 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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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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