Should Connecticut Consider Becoming a Right to Work State?

BeFunky_righttowork *

I usually prepare more questions than I need for Face the State, and such was the case for this Sunday’s broadcast. Our guests this weekend are Senate president Don Williams and Senate minority leader John McKinney, and we planned on talking about the new Sandy Hook task force, and other legislative issues.



Senator Williams was talking about how Connecticut has lost manufacturing jobs, so I decided to dip into those reserve questions and ask the senators about the new situation in Michigan, aimed at stemming that state’s loss of manufacturing jobs. In December, Michigan became a “right to work” state. Connecticut is not one of those states.

I’m simplifying things here, but basically here is what it means. A “right to work” state gives the employee the right to decide whether to join a union, a law practiced in roughly half of the states in the country. In Connecticut, and non “right to work” states, you must join a union, if the company where you work has one. I belong to a union here at WFSB (AFTRA-SAG,) and when I was hired, I was told my employment was contingent on joining the union and paying the dues.

Some companies don’t like that, and the argument is that many would rather set up shop in a “right to work” state. That was the crux of the discussion in heavily unionized Michigan, whose landscape is scarred by shuttered factories and vacant city blocks. Michigan’s governor and legislative leaders felt going “right to work” was worth a try. There were rallies, protests, and an ad campaign against the move, but it passed.


Could this scene in Lansing ever play out in Hartford?

So could Connecticut, whose unemployment rate rivals Michigan’s, give it a try? That’s what I asked Senators Williams and McKinney. As you might imagine, the answers fell along party lines. Williams said “certainly not.” McKinney is open to talking about it. “I would love to have that public hearing in the legislature and have a vote on it, but the chairman of the labor committee wouldn’t allow it,” McKinney said. Williams responded by saying “there wouldn’t be support for it.”

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal in December, “right to work” states tend to have better job growth, but the wages can be lower.

You can watch the entire discussion with Williams and McKinney as we talk about Newtown, guns, taxes, the economy, legislator pay and much more right here:

part 1, guns, Newtown, school safety: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8212038

part 2, right to work, the economy, legislative pay: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8212041

* Right to work states are in dark blue

About the author: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/marking-20-years-at-wfsb/

18 replies »

  1. It’s been well known that ‘ right to work ‘ states are the poorest among our nation. Low wages, job safety will be at a minimum ,no overtime, low benefits, no rights on jobs. This will be a disaster for the state of Conn. to even let this idea on the floor in our capital. Hard enough our state is the most expensive to live in,and many of us making decent wages now are still struggling to keep afloat in this state. Now the republicans wants to put us nutmeggers through the dirt to lower our wages and have lower unskilled workers coming to our state by the hundreds. I don’t think so! God forbid if that happens, if so , then say good-bye to Conn. middleclass and say good-bye to our highly trained workers…………..


  2. Union leader Senator Cathy Osten does not approve of a hearing on the Labor committee. Not surprising as she makes $150,000 from three government pay checks. Go ask the union members at Foxwoods or Backus Hospital how things are working out. Many would appreciate to choose to be in a union. Right now all employees are forced to pay union dues.


  3. The disaster is the Democrats running the state, chasing out businesses and people with high taxes, and regulation. Democrats would never allow CT to become a right to work state because the unions own the Democrats. TO Democrats unions leadership is more important than the people.


  4. Of course! We have “freedom of association” here in this country, although you’d never know it by listening to unions. Give folks the choice: if union membership is so great, workers will be tripping over themselves to join up. What are the unions so afraid of?


  5. Without collective-bargaining, Connecticut workers would suffer drastically. Employers want something for nothing and workers just can’t do that, not in this State, the most expensive in the Country. The idle rich have already sent our jobs overseas, with no recourse to the workers. A recent survey showed that a worker at minimum wage would have to work 114 hours a week just to have a simple two-bedroom apartment in Connecticut. The casinos and Walmart do not pay enough for anyone to survive here,


  6. RIGHT TO WORK SHOULD BE A FEDERAL LAW!!! First you should do a little more research. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BE A MEMBER OF A UNION AS A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT. That information is available to everyone
    at the NLRB (national labor relations board) and the nrtw.org web sites.
    Unions are no longer relevant in the US. Federal law protects people from work place abuses. Unions do not improve working conditions. They DO NOT protect you from being fired or laid off.

    At Backus Hospital they not only negotiated away many of our rights and benefits (thousands of dollars in retirement benefits and bonus) and for this great deal as a non-union member I pay 1% of my income to the UNION. Many studies show that if dues payment were optional (see results in Wisconsin) union performance would improve. No one (with slight exception) is required to be a union member and those of us who do not join should not be required to pay the union. The need for Unions are a thing of the past. They are the current mafia sanctioned by the federal govt for political funding.


  7. Unions kind of killed detroit. They have outlived their usefullness. I was looking for a job , somehting to supplement my curent income. I did apply at stop and shop , but in ordee to work there I HAVE to join the union. What if I don’ want to? I thought this was a free country, it’s really not so much of a free country since the dems and libs have gotten their way. They know how to whine and cry to get their way, true Americans will need to take time off of work and learn how to whine and cry just as well as the libs in order to get our way. I think becoming a “right to work” state is in our best interest, the union may work for some but not all. We need to make it more appealing for companies to want to come to connecticut. Becoming a right to work state would do just that..


  8. NO! I was in a union for over 30 years. It wasn’t perfect, but it protected my rights as an employee many times..


  9. We need to try something new. People don’t like change. I feel current status is not effectively working. I am all in for it maybe I can improve my job situation from store stocker lowest on chain to a better job


  10. Oh My God..no no no no…working people have been taking the hit for Wall Street greed and incompetence for way too long…It is time to improve the quality of living for the working class…not to completely tear it apart. Take your teabagger ideas and head south my friend. Maybe they will give you what you seem to need.


  11. Right to work states CAN have unions, but because unions cannot collect dues from non union members they do not choose to target those states. One of the reasons CT is so expensive is because you the taxpayer have
    to support the unsustainable pensions while not being able to support yourself. I do not care if we have unions I just want the right not to pay as a non-member


  12. I think ct should become a right to work state. It would bring in a whole lot of jobs.I think union abuse is making ct less competitive. I lived in a right to work state and wages weren’t any different


  13. the problem with right to work states,is that they can FIRE
    you for no reason.been there,i worked in maryland,and believe me the employer knows his right to let you go if he wants.so now you think this will help.please,there only one way,LOWER taxes on businesses.


  14. No!! It should not the only right it would give is to employer to do what ever they want and to not pay or give Insurance to employee it is the worst thing ever for people that don’t have degrees they are treated like Slaves.. I lived in a State that has the Right to Work Law and discrimination on the job was horrible there is already a lot of that here how much worst can it get for the many African American already out of work now and can’t get a good paying job….


  15. It’s just a matter of time before the Democrats implode. Perhaps as soon as in 2014 they will be swept from power. even the stupid people are starting to wake up.

    In an election where incumbent US Representatives added to their votes totals by 75,000 necause of Obama on the ticket, they could not change the balance in the General Assembly. With no Obama on the ticket in 2014, Democrats will be picket-off by the dozens!


  16. Why cant a person have a choice. I was told when i went for a cashier job at a major grocery chain, i almost took yhe job, but it paid minimum wage, with a $12 per week union fee and a $50 join fee,

    I dont know but i would think that jobs like these really dony need a union….i turned down the job because the money i would pay out verses take home pay was not going to make it worth my while.

    Personally speaking unions just need to be stripped of their powers and over bearing presence.


  17. The key phrase in the above blog is that right-to-work states …”have better job growth but lower wages.” This translates to millionaires making more money off the hard labor of middle and lower class workers. Call a spade a spade.


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