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Right to Work laws - Information on the law about Right to Work

labor union organization employment

As labor unions began to organize and to bargain with employers on behalf of its members, many troublesome issues began to arise. For instance, if a union negotiated a contract with a company, did the contract cover only union members or those employees who refused to join the union too? Could the union insist that the employer refuse to hire nonunion members? If a member violated some union policy, could the union insist that the employer fire the employee?

To say that the union had the power to decide who worked and who did not meant that the employer was deprived of a fundamental right in running his business. Conversely, if an employer who hired and fired whom he pleased, it meant that, potentially, the union contract could be undermined simply by hiring nonunion employees.

Over the years an intricate system of rules, regulations, and laws has evolved to manage the many thorny issues that have arisen in the context of union contracts, including the protection of the rights of nonunion employees to work for unionized employers. These "right to work" laws generally forbid both unions and employers from denying a nonunion employee a job solely on account of his union status. Twenty-five states are currently "right to work" states. Twenty-five and the District of Columbia have no statutory provision, apparently allowing the union to bargain with the employer for the right to insist upon union membership as a condition for employment.

Table 20: Right to Work

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
ALABAMA 25-7-30, et seq. The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization. Any agreement/combination between employer and labor union or organization denying nonmembers right to work is prohibited; labor organizations cannot require membership, abstention, or payment of union dues. Harmed person may recover such damages sustained by reason of denial or deprivation of employment.
ALASKA No statutory provisions      
ARIZONA 23-1302, et seq.; Ariz. Const. Art. XXV No person shall be denied opportunity to work because of nonmembership in a union. Threatened or actual interference with person, his family, or property to force him to join union, strike against his will, or leave job; conspiracy to induce persons to refuse to work with nonmembers; agreements which exclude person from employment because of nonmembership in union. Any act/agreement in violation of article is illegal and void; damages; injunctive relief.
ARKANSAS Ark. Const. Amend. XXXIV; 11-3-301, et seq. Freedom of organized labor to bargain collectively and unorganized labor to bargain individually. Union affiliation or nonaffiliation not to be condition of employment; contracts to exclude persons from employment. Persons violating chapter guilty of a misdemeanor; fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000.
CALIFORNIA No statutory provisions      
COLORADO 8-3-101, et seq. Freedom to organize and right to refrain from organizing Interfere with, restrain, or coerce person's right to organize or refrain from organizing Civil liability damages; misdemeanor, first offense not less than $50 nor more than $100, 2nd and subsequent offenses not less than $100 nor more than $500, together with costs
CONNECTICUT No statutory provisions      
DELAWARE No statutory provisions      
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA No statutory provisions      
FLORIDA Fla. Const. Art. I §6 The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged by membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization. Public employees do not have right to strike; right of employees to bargain collectively through a labor union shall not be denied or abridged.  

Table 20: Right to Work—Continued

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
GEORGIA 34-6-21, et seq. No person shall be required as a condition of employment to be or remain a member of a labor organization or to resign or to refrain from membership with a labor organization. Membership in or payment to labor organization as condition of employment; contracts requiring membership in or payment to labor organization as contrary to public policy; deduction from wages of fees for labor organization without individual's order or request. Injunctive relief; costs and reasonable attorney's fees; actual damages; misdemeanor punished as provided in §17-10-3
HAWAII 377-1, et seq. Employees have right of self-organization and right to form, join, or assist labor organization; right to refrain from organizing Interfere with, restrain, or coerce employee's right to organize; influence the outcome of any employment relations controversy Fine not more than $500 or imprisonment not more than 1 yr., or both
IDAHO 44-2001, et seq. The right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion, infringed upon or restrained in any way based on membership, affiliation, or financial support of a labor organization. Freedom of choice guaranteed, discrimination prohibited; deductions from wages unless signed written authorization by employee; coercion and intimidation of employee, his family, or property. Any agreement null and void and of no legal effect; misdemeanor and fined not more than $1,000 or imprisonment not more than 90 days or both; injunctive relief; may recover any and all damages including costs & attorney's fees.
ILLINOIS No statutory provisions      
INDIANA No statutory provisions      
IOWA 731.1, et seq. No person shall be deprived of the right to work at a chosen occupation because of membership, affiliation, withdrawal/expulsion, or refusal to join any labor union Refusal to employ because of membership in a labor organization; contracts to exclude; union dues as prerequisite to employment; deducting dues from pay unless signed written authorization from employee. Any contract contravening policy is illegal and void; guilty of a serious misdemeanor; injunction.
KANSAS 44-831; Kan. Const. Art. XV §12 There is a cause of action if there is a constitutional violation. No person shall be denied opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of membership or nonmembership in any labor organization. Agreements to exclude persons from employment or continuance of employment based on membership or nonmembership in any labor organization. Damages; attorney's fees.
KENTUCKY No statutory provisions      

Table 20: Right to Work—Continued

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
LOUISIANA 23:981 to 23:987 All persons shall have the right to form, join, and assist labor organizations or to refrain from such activities without fear of penalty or reprisals. Cannot be required to become or remain member of labor organization or pay dues or fees as condition of employment; agreements between labor organization and employer. Such agreements are unlawful, null and void, and of no legal effect; misdemeanor; fined not more than $1,000 and imprisoned for not more than 90 days; injunctive relief; recover any and all damages.
MAINE No statutory provisions      
MARYLAND No statutory provisions      
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 149 §19, et seq. No person shall, by intimidation or force, prevent or seek to prevent a person from entering into or continuing in the employment of any person No person shall, himself or by his agent, coerce or compel a person into a written or oral agreement not to join or become a member of a labor organization as a condition of his securing employment or continuing the employment of such person Legal and equitable relief
MICHIGAN No statutory provisions      
MINNESOTA No statutory provisions      
MISSISSIPPI 71-1-47; Miss. Const. Art VII §198A; 71-1-53 The right to work shall not be denied or abridged because of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or organization. Agreement or combination between employer and labor organization to make membership condition of employment or where union or organization acquires an employment monopoly; requirement to become or remain member; requirement to abstain or refrain from membership; requirement to pay dues. Misdemeanor; fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $250.
MISSOURI No statutory provisions      
MONTANA No statutory provisions      
NEBRASKA 48-217, 911; Neb. Const. Art. XV §13; 48-219 No person shall be denied employment because of membership, affiliation, resignation, or expulsion in or from a labor organization or because of refusal to join or pay fees. Contracts between employer and labor organization to exclude because of membership or nonmembership Guilty of a class IV misdemeanor; fined not less than $100 or more than $500. (28-106)

Table 20: Right to Work—Continued

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
NEVADA 613.230, et seq. No person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of nonmembership in a labor organization. Agreements prohibiting employment because of nonmembership in labor organization; strike or picketing to force or induce employer to make agreement; compelling person to join labor organization, strike, or leave employment; conspiracy to cause discharge or denial of employment or to induce refusal of work on basis of membership. Any act in violation shall be illegal and void; liable for damages; injunctive relief.
NEW HAMPSHIRE No statutory provisions      
NEW JERSEY No statute deals with union-security contracts but the state courts have upheld closed-shop and union-shop agreements. F. F. East Co. v. United Oysterman's Union 21 A.2d. 799      
NEW MEXICO No statutory provisions      
NEW YORK No statutory provisions      
NORTH CAROLINA 95-78, et seq. The right to live includes the right to work. The right to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization. Agreement or combination between employer and labor organization where nonmembers are denied right to work or where membership is made condition of employment or where organization acquires employment monopoly; nonmembership status as condition of employment; payment of dues as condition of employment. Any damages sustained.
NORTH DAKOTA 34-01-14 The right of a person to work shall not be abridged or denied on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization. All contracts in negation or abrogation of right to work are invalid; "agency shop" dues "check off" of nonmember of union as condition of employment or continuance. None.

Table 20: Right to Work—Continued

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
OHIO §4113.02 None stated. Any agreement between employer and employee in which either party agrees to join, quit, or remain a part of a labor organization as a condition of employment is "contrary to public policy and void." Contract void.
OKLAHOMA No statutory provisions      
OREGON No statutory provisions      
PENNSYLVANIA No statutory provisions      
RHODE ISLAND No statutory provisions      
SOUTH CAROLINA 41-7-10, et seq. The denial of the right to work because of membership or nonmembership in a labor organization is against public policy. Agreements between employer and labor organization denying nonmembers right to work or requiring union membership; requirement of membership or to refrain from membership or payment of dues as condition of employment; deduction of dues from wages without authorization; contracts declared to be unlawful by §41-7-20 or 41-7-30; 41-7-40. Misdemeanor; imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 30 days; or fined not less than 10 nor more than $1,000 or both; damages, costs, and attorney's fees.
SOUTH DAKOTA 60-8-3, et seq.; 60-10-10; Art. VI §2 South Dakota Constitution The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or organization. Any agreement relating to employment denying free exercise of right to work; any coercion to enter into such agreement; coercion of employee to join union; interference with right to work by use of force or violence. Class 2 misdemeanor; thirty days imprisonment in county jail or $100 fine or both. (22-6-2)
TENNESSEE 50-1-201, et seq. It is unlawful to deny employment because of affiliation or nonaffiliation with a labor union. Contracts for exclusion from employment because of affiliation or nonaffiliation with labor union; exclusion from employment for payment or failure to pay union dues. Class A misdemeanor; imprisoned for not greater than 11 months and 29 days or fine not to exceed $2,500 or both. (40-35-111)
TEXAS Labor Code §101.003, et seq. No person shall be denied employment on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union. Any contract which requires membership or nonmembership; denial of right to work and bargain freely with employer, individually or collectively. None

Table 20: Right to Work—Continued

State Code Section Policy Prohibited Activity Penalties
UTAH 34-34-2, et seq. The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union, labor organization, or any other type of association. Agreement, understanding, or practice denying right to work based on membership in labor organization; compelling person to join or not join organization; employer cannot require union membership, abstinence from membership, or payment of dues or fees. Injunctive relief; any and all damages; injunction; misdemeanor.
VERMONT No statutory provisions      
VIRGINIA 40.1-58, et seq. The right to work shall not be abridged or denied on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or organization. Agreements between labor organization to deny nonmembers right to work or where membership is made condition of employment or where union acquires monopoly; requirement of membership, nonmembership, or payment of dues as condition of employment. Damages sustained; agreements in violation are illegal and contrary to public policy; illegal conduct contrary to public policy; misdemeanor; injunctive relief.
WASHINGTON No statutory provisions      
WEST VIRGINIA No statutory provisions      
WISCONSIN No statutory provisions      
WYOMING 27-7-109, et seq. No person is required to become a member of a labor organization or abstain therefrom as a condition of employment. Requirement of membership or nonmembership or payment of dues as a condition of employment; requirement of connection with or approval from labor union. Misdemeanor; damages sustained; injunctive relief; fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail not to exceed 6 months or both.
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