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Right to Work Laws by State

There are many contentious issues surrounding labor law in general, and unions in particular. Some people believe unions help improve working conditions and wages for everyone, while others think unions wield too much power and stifle economic growth. It’s perspectives like these that shape the arguments regarding state right to work laws which limit what unions and employers can require of workers in their state. Regardless of your position on unions and labor laws in general, it’s helpful to know what the right to work laws are where you live and in neighboring states.

What Are Right to Work Laws?

Unions often represent all workers in a bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are union members or not. Therefore, unions often try to persuade employers to sign contracts that require all workers to pay fees to the union as a condition of employment. Over half of the states have right to work laws which prohibit employers and labor organizations from requiring non-union employees to pay these fees. Many states’ right to work laws also include language states that unions and employers may not require membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Some states have had right to work statutes since the 1940s, while others only recently passed such laws. The table below lists and describes the key statutes for each of the states who currently have right to work laws on the books.

 

Law on Union Fees

Law on Union Membership

Remedy for Violation

State Statutes

Alabama

Payment of dues or fees to a union cannot be a condition of employment.

Union membership cannot be a condition of employment. Employer cannot prohibit union membership.

Employee may recover damages caused by violation of right to work laws.

§25-7-30 et seq.; 25-7-1 et seq.

Alaska

Not a right to work state

     

Arizona

N/A

No one can be denied work due to non-membership in a union. Cannot threaten or force someone to join union, participate in strike, or leave employment. Cannot encourage others not to work with non-members.

May sue for damages and injunctive relief for violation of right to work laws.

§23-1301 et seq.

Arkansas

No one can be forced to pay dues to a labor organization as condition of employment, unless agreed to in writing.

No one can be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in union

Violation amounts to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $100 and $5,000 per day.

Ark. Const. Amend. 34; §11-3-301 et seq.

California

Not a right to work state

     

Colorado

Not a right to work state

     

Connecticut

Not a right to work state

     

Delaware

Not a right to work state

     

District of Columbia

Not a right to work state

     

Florida

N/A

Right to work may not be denied or abridged due to membership or non-membership in labor organization. May not deny employment or discriminate against person for membership or non-membership in labor organization.

Violation punishable as second degree misdemeanor. May sue for damages, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, and possibly punitive damages.

Fl. Const. Art. 1 §6; §447.01 et seq.

Georgia

No individual can be required to pay any fee to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Unlawful to compel person to join or refrain from joining a labor organization, or to strike or refrain from striking. Membership in labor organization may not be condition of employment.

Injunctive relief, damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees recoverable for voidable contracts. Violations punishable as a misdemeanor.

§34-6-6 et seq.; 34-6-22 et seq.

Hawaii

Not a right to work state

     

Idaho

No person can be required to pay dues, fees or other charges to a labor or other organization as a condition of employment, unless agreed to in writing.

Cannot require membership, non-membership, or approval by labor organization as condition of employment.

Violations punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine not more than $1000, or prison for not more than 90 days. May sue for injunctive relief and damages including costs and attorneys’ fees.

§44-2001 et seq.

Illinois

Not a right to work state

     

Indiana

Person may not require individual to pay dues, fees, etc. to labor or other organization as condition of employment.

Person may not require individual to become or remain member of labor organization.

Violation may be punished as Class A misdemeanor. May sue for actual and consequential damages or liquidated damages not more than $1,000; costs and attorneys’ fees; injunctive relief.

§22-6-6-1 et seq.

Iowa

May not require payment of dues, fees, etc. to labor organization as prerequisite or condition of employment.

May not refuse employment because of membership or non-membership in labor organization.

Violation punishable as a serious misdemeanor. May seek injunctive relief.

§731 et seq.

Kansas

Employer may not deduct labor organization dues from employee paycheck without written authorization.

No one can be denied employment due to membership or non-membership in labor organization. Membership in union cannot be a prerequisite to employment.

May sue for actual damages and attorneys’ fees within one year. Injunctive relief available.

Kan. Const. Art. 15 §12; §44-802 et seq.; 44-808 et seq.; 44-831

Kentucky

May not require payment of fees to labor organization or deduct dues from paycheck without written consent.

May not require membership in labor organization as condition of employment.

Violation may be punished as a Class A misdemeanor. May sue for damages and injunctive relief.

House Bill 1 to amend §336.130 et seq.

Louisiana

No person shall be required to pay any dues, fees, etc. to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

No person shall be required to become or remain a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment.

May sue for injunctive relief and damages. Violation may be punished as a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days.

§23-981 et seq.

Maine

Not a right to work state

     

Maryland

Not a right to work state

     

Massachusetts

Not a right to work state

     

Michigan

An individual cannot be required to pay dues, fees, etc. to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

An individual cannot be required to become or remain a member of a labor or affiliated organization as a condition of employment.

Violation punishable by a civil fine of up to $500. May sue for damages, injunctive relief, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.

§423.8; 423.14 et seq.; 423.209 et seq. (public employees)

Minnesota

Not a right to work state

     

Mississippi

No person can be required to pay labor organization dues or fees as a condition of employment.

No person can be required to become, remain, or abstain from membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.

May sue for actual damages. Violations may be punished as a misdemeanor with a fine of between $25 and $250 per day.

Miss. Const. Art. 7 §198A; §71-1-47; 71-1-53

Missouri

No person shall be required to pay any dues to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

No person shall be required to become, remain, or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Violation punishable as a class C misdemeanor. May sue for injunctive relief, damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

SB 19 to amend Ch. 290

Montana

Not a right to work state

     

Nebraska

No person shall be denied employment because of refusal to pay a fee directly or indirectly to a labor organization.

No person shall be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labor organization.

Violations may be punishable as a class IV misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500.

Neb. Const. Art. XV, §13 et seq.; §48-217 et seq.; 48-824; 81-1386; 28-106

Nevada

N/A

No person shall be denied opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in labor organization.

May sue for damages for violations of right to work laws. Injunctive relief available. Violations punishable as misdemeanor.

§613.230 et seq.; 613.130; 288.140

New Hampshire

Not a right to work state

     

New Jersey

Not a right to work state

     

New Mexico

Not a right to work state

     

New York

Not a right to work state

     

North Carolina

No employer shall require any person to pay dues, fees, etc. to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Non-members of a labor organization shall not be denied the right to work. Membership may not be a condition of employment.

May sue for damages sustained as a result of violation of right to work laws.

§95-78 et seq.

North Dakota

A nonunion employee may not be compelled to pay expenses incurred by labor organization in course of general collective bargaining.

Right of person to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in labor organization.

N/A

§34-01-14 et seq.; 34-11.1-01 et seq.

Ohio

Not a right to work state

     

Oklahoma

No person shall be required, as a condition of employment, to pay any dues, etc. to a labor organization.

No person shall be required, as a condition of employment, to become or remain a member of a labor organization.

Violation punishable as a misdemeanor.

Okla. Const. Art. 23 §1A

Oregon

Not a right to work state

     

Rhode Island

Not a right to work state

     

South Carolina

May not require payment of fees, etc. to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

May not require membership or non-membership in labor organization as a condition of employment.

Violation is punishable as a misdemeanor with imprisonment between 10 and 30 days, and/or a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 for each offense. May sue for injunctive relief, actual damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, treble and punitive damages.

§41-7-10 et seq.

South Dakota

Unions and employers are not authorized to require payment of fees in lieu of membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.

The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in a labor organization. Employers and unions are not authorized to require membership as a condition of employment.

Violations amount to a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 30 days’ imprisonment and/or $500 fine.

S.D. Const. Art. 6 §2; §60-8-1 et seq.; 60-9A-14; 3-18-1 et seq.; 22-6-2

Tennessee

Unlawful to exclude from employment any person for their failure to pay dues, fees, etc. to a labor organization.

Unlawful to deny or attempt to deny employment because of a person’s membership or non-membership in a labor organization.

Violations amount to a Class A misdemeanor.

§50-1-201 et seq.; 49-5-601 et seq.

Texas

Labor organization may not demand fee from non-member as a condition of employment. Employer may not deduct fee from paycheck without employee’s written consent.

A person may not be denied employment based on membership or non-membership in a labor union.

Certain violations punishable with civil penalty of up to $1,000, and an injunction. Certain violations also punishable as misdemeanor with fine of up to $500, confinement for up to 60 days, or both. May sue for damages.

101.003 et seq.; 101.051 et seq.; 101.111; 101.301 et seq.; 617.004

Utah

No employer shall require any person to pay dues, fees, etc. to any labor organization as a condition of employment.

No person shall be denied the right to work on account of membership or non-membership in any labor organization.

May sue for injunctive relief and damages. Violations constitute a misdemeanor.

§34-34-1 et seq.

Vermont

Not a right to work state

     

Virginia

No employer shall require any person, as a condition of employment to pay any dues, fees, etc. to any labor organization.

Unlawful to deny employment on account of non-membership in a labor organization, or to make membership a condition of employment.

May sue for injunctive relief and damages of any character. Violations constitute a misdemeanor.

§40.1-58 et seq.

Washington

Not a right to work state

     

West Virginia

May not require a person to pay any dues, fees, etc. to a union as a condition of employment.

May not require person to become or remain a member of a union as a condition of employment.

May sue for damages.

§21-1A-3 et seq.

Wisconsin

No person may require an individual to pay any dues, fees, etc. to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

No person may require an individual to become or remain a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment.

May sue for damages and injunctive relief. Violations considered unfair labor practices.

§111.04; 111.06

Wyoming

No person is required to pay or refrain from paying any dues, fees, etc. to any labor organization as a condition of employment.

No person is required to become or remain a member of any labor organization as a condition of employment.

May sue for damages and injunctive relief. Violation constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

§27-7-108 et seq.

Learn How Right to Work Laws May Affect You

Knowing what your rights and responsibilities are as an employee, union member, or employer can be an arduous task given the multitude of labor laws out there. Even with the right to work laws mentioned above, there are exceptions that make the laws effective only after a certain date or only protect certain private-sector employees. Whether you live in a right to work state or not, get help understanding and protecting your rights by contacting an experienced, local labor attorney today.

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