Nearly eight in ten business leaders say they prefer operating in right-to-work states, according to a new study.
Chief Executive magazine surveyed CEOs across the country about the economic environments that are best suited for their companies. The survey found that right-to-work laws, which prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment, play a large role in attracting business. Of the 500 CEOs polled, 78 percent reported that they preferred to operate in such states compared to just 3 percent that preferred or operated solely in unionism states.
All ten states that were graded as having the best business climates are right-to-work states, while the bottom 13 states do not have such laws on the books, according to the magazine, which releases annual rankings.
The results did not surprise labor watchdogs.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens said that attracting economic development is the main driver behind ending coercive unionism. He pointed to Kentucky, which passed right to work in January after Republicans took control of the state legislature for the first time in more than 90 years, as a chief example of the immediate economic boost that comes from adopting the legislation.
Braidy Industries announced in April that it would invest $1.3 billion and hire 550 people to open a new aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky., as a result of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's push for right to work.
"Right to work is first and foremost about protecting worker freedom of choice and is good policy on that basis alone," he said. "That said, the evidence that right to work also drives job creation is overwhelming and growing by the day, which is why we’ve seen seven states pass new right-to-work laws in the past five years after just three states in the previous four decades."
The National Institute for Labor Relations Research, a think tank that opposes forced unionism, said that the survey follows a pattern observed in state economic development statistics.
"Overwhelmingly through the years, CEOs have judged that, in right-to-work states, employees have superior work ethics, real estate costs are relatively low, and public officials have a much more positive attitude towards business," NILRR said in a blog post.
Twenty-eight states have right-to-work laws on the books. The legislation has spread to former union strongholds, particularly in the Rust Belt. Since 2011, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri have ended long-standing protections of forced unionism by adopting the legislation.
The transition has improved some of those state's standings in Chief Executive‘s business rankings. Indiana now ranks the 5th best state to do business in, while Wisconsin and Ohio rank 10th and 11th, according to the magazine. In 2010, before right to work gained momentum in the region, Indiana ranked 16th, Wisconsin 41st, and Ohio 43rd.