Column: Recognizing the need for freedom of employmentCreating jobs is a task the Minnesota Legislature must accomplish this year, and to further this goal, I am chief authoring legislation that I believe is the most important pro-jobs bill of the session.
By: Steve Drazkowski, The Republican Eagle
Creating jobs is a task the Minnesota Legislature must accomplish this year, and to further this goal, I am chief authoring legislation that I believe is the most important pro-jobs bill of the session.
Ask yourself this question: Should Minnesota workers have the freedom to decide the terms of their employment?
To me, the answer is a resounding yes, which is why I introduced constitutional amendment legislation that would give Minnesotans the opportunity to vote on whether or not Minnesota workers should have the freedom to join a union.
Currently, if someone is hired by a company with a collective bargaining agreement in place, that person is required to join the union or pay fair share dues.
A wealth of research suggests that right-to-work laws play a significant role in explaining state variations in industry location, human migration, and economic growth. States that have granted employees this freedom have experienced rapid growth in business, leading to greater job growth.
From 1993 to 2009, private sector employment increased nearly 38 percent in those states versus only 19.6 percent in forced-unionism states. It’s estimated that had Minnesota passed this amendment 30 years ago, the average Minnesota working family would be earning an additional $7,000 or more every year.
Job creation in states with employee freedom happens at twice the speed that it does in forced unionism states. Multiple studies show that jobs grow at this accelerated speed when employees are given the freedom to decide whether or not they will join a union. We believe that the 175,000 Minnesota workers who are out of a job would be very interested in this opportunity.
According to the Center of the American Experiment, Minnesota almost certainly would have been in the top 10 states in the nation for per capita income with employee freedom instead of its current position of 14th. Excepting the low-tax and resource rich Dakotas, Minnesota probably would have led the Midwest in economic growth.
Indiana recently approved freedom of employment legislation. Officials from that state found that not being a right-to-work was a huge handicap when it attempted to compete for jobs.
According to an article in the New York Times, the Indiana Speaker of the House addressed the topic by saying “Local economic development officers testified that 25 to 50 percent of companies looking to create employment, whether through expansion or locating a new facility, just took Indiana and other non-right-to-work states off the table. This is stopping employers from coming to Indiana. We need to deal with that.”
Minnesota needs to give companies a reason to want to grow jobs here.
If employers found Indiana problematic for job expansion, imagine how often Minnesota must be passed over, as we also rank 45th in the State Business Tax Climate Index.
Boeing recently landed its manufacturing facility for its dreamliner aircraft and the accompanying five thousand jobs in South Carolina rather than Washington. We know that the Northwest-Delta merger chose Georgia over Minnesota. Both benefitting states are Right to Work, or employee freedom states.
If my bill is approved by the House and Senate, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to decide whether all workers will be afforded employment freedom. If Minnesotans support the measure, every Minnesota worker would still have the right to join or support a labor union, only now it would be his or her own decision. In addition, union employees would still be able to collectively bargain the same as under current law.
Jobs are our number one priority – this bill recognizes Minnesota workers’ ability, and right, to decide whether or not they’d like to be part of a union. In Minnesota law, if a worker refuses to pay union dues, they are fired. This isn’t fair and it’s definitely not free.
Should Minnesota workers have the decision as to whether or not they should be forced to pay a third party in order to work? A recent poll found over 70 percent of Minnesotans support employee freedom, plus with the economic evidence, its clear freedom of employment will inspire a renaissance of job creation in Minnesota.
The time is right to allow the people to decide whether they want to guarantee this fundamental right in our constitution.