Why Right-to-Work-for-Less is Wrong for Alaska Families


November 18, 2013

Alaska possesses one of the stronger labor movements in the United States, with a union density rate only second to that of New York State.

Both the Republican-dominated legislature and the state Chamber of Commerce say that so-called right-to-work-for-less legislation isn’t on the agenda. But that doesn’t mean union activists are letting their guard down however, said Anchorage Local 1547 Business Manager Mike Hodson.  

“It’s popped up in the legislature more than few times,” he said.  And the lessons of Michigan, where Gov. Rick Snyder rammed through right-to-work legislation in a matter of weeks after claiming to oppose it, stands as a warning for unionists everywhere.

To prepare union members and voters, Alaska unions – including Local 1547 – hosted a series of trainings last week throughout the state about what right-to-work really means for working families.

Right-to-work makes itillegal for collective bargaining agreements to require nonunion employees to pay fees, even while unions are still legally required to represent those workers. 

Gordon Lafer, a professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, spoke at the Juneau training.

As reported by KTOO radio:

Proponents of right-to-work laws often sell them as a way to increase employment in a particular area. But Lafer says the real goal is to weaken unions and workers’ rights in general. A study done by his colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute shows full-time employees in right-to-work states make about $1,500 less per year than employees in non-right-to-work states, regardless of whether they belong to a union. He also says workers are less likely get health insurance through their job in right-to-work states.

Hodson says it’s important for union members and their allies get to be informed, so when they talk to fellow members and the community, they know what they are talking about.

“Having more facts – reliable facts – to have a decent conversation about what we’re really talking about, that’s the main reason I’m here,” Local 1547 Assistant Business Manager Rodney Hesson told KTOO about the training.

Click here to learn more why right-to-work-for-less is bad for working families.


Photo credit: Local 1547