New report stokes right-to-work debate

Supporters of a constitutional amendment to make union membership voluntary in Minnesota say a new report backs up the need to make the change.

The conservative think tank Center of the American Experiment study released a report today that suggests a switch to right-to-work status could improve the state economy, employee incomes and standard of living. But Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University and the study’s author, stressed that the improvements would not come overnight.

“If you put in a right to work law in Minnesota tomorrow, it’s impact on say per capita income in this state in the year 2012 would be negligible, or be relatively small. It takes time for institutions and people to adjust to new legal environments.”

Representatives of several labor unions disputed the study and its conclusions. They claim the switch would undermine unions and lower wages for the middle class. In a news release, AFSCME Council 5 director Eliot Seide said the study was “bogus.”

“Right to work for less is wrong for Minnesota,” Seide said. “Minnesotans desperately need good jobs, not the right to work for $5,500 less. We must stop this attack on everyday people who deserve a decent job, health care, and a secure retirement. Until we do that, big money bullies will never get enough.”