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Right-to-work laws: Symbols or substance?

  • Economics
  • Law


In recent years, some students of industrial relations have concluded that the substantive issues in the continuing controversy over "right-to-work" legislation are much less important than the symbolic ones. Labor and management groups, according to this view, are basically engaged in a struggle to win public support for their respective objectives, but the laws have had little effect on the balance of economic power in the labor market. The author of this discussion contests this view. His analysis of union success in voluntary, recruitment of members and of the effects of a loss of union security on union membership and revenues leads him to conclude that basic practical considerations may be at stake in the right-to-work issue. Tentatively at least, he urges, the verdict on the right-to-work laws should he withheld until there has been more research on their actual effects on union strength and collective bargaining. (Author's abstract courtesy EBSCO.)

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