Let’s get real: if so-called “Right to Work” laws generated economic growth, Mississippi would be an epicenter of economic activity.
As Brian Howey notes, the current push for Right to Work is simply a continuation of the war on unions Daniels inaugurated soon after he himself was inaugurated; the sorts of jobs Indiana has been trying to grow–life sciences, biotech, etc.–aren’t union jobs anyway. But if we were to take Governor Daniels and Speaker Bosma at their word, their argument boils down to the contention that creating a “good business environment” requires that we be a low-wage, low tax state.
A story may be instructive: Several years ago, Toyota was negotiating with three such states (all in the south) to locate a new plant. The states in question all had low wage workforces and low taxes; in addition, all were offering tax incentives. Toyota ended up going to Canada, and the economic development officers of the losing states were dumbfounded, because taxes were higher and no incentives were involved. Toyota’s explanation? The workforce was much more highly educated, and thanks to Canada’s “socialized” system, they wouldn’t need to provide healthcare.
When you look at independent research on right-to-work laws (i.e., research not sponsored by/paid for by either unions or Chambers of Commerce), there is absolutely no evidence that such laws affect job growth one way or the other. Once you control for the other factors that affect economic conditions, it appears that the only effect of such laws is to lower wages for both unionized and non-union workers.
The “liberty” argument for right-to-work is that no one should have to join a union in order to work. I agree–and under current law, they don’t. They do have to pay for services rendered by the union that benefit them–that is, their share of the cost of negotiation for wages and working conditions. That’s it. They don’t have to become a member, or support any other activities with which they disagree. The “liberty” argument against right-to-work is that employers should be free to bargain with whomever they choose–that the state should not have the power to dictate an owner’s otherwise lawful workplace policies and arrangements.
If we really want to promote job growth and a healthy economic environment, our focus should be on creating efficient, transparent state government, high-quality public schools, good public services (especially public transportation), and an improved quality of life.
Add in workers who have enough money to spend in the marketplace, and believe me, the employers will come.