What is a "right to work" state?

Author: Irene Stavrellis Englert, Englert Legal Consulting, LLC

The National Labor Relations Act permits a state to enact statutes that prohibit an employer and a union from reaching an agreement requiring an employee's membership in the union or payment of union dues or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring. These states that prohibit such agreements are called "right to work" states. Currently, there are 25 "right to work" states:

  • Alabama;
  • Arizona;
  • Arkansas;
  • Florida;
  • Georgia;
  • Idaho;
  • Indiana;
  • Iowa;
  • Kansas;
  • Louisiana;
  • Michigan;
  • Mississippi;
  • Nebraska;
  • Nevada;
  • North Carolina;
  • North Dakota;
  • Oklahoma;
  • South Carolina;
  • South Dakota;
  • Tennessee;
  • Texas;
  • Utah;
  • Virginia;
  • Wisconsin; and
  • Wyoming.

Note that on July 1, 2016, West Virginia's "right to work" law became effective. However, a court recently granted a preliminary injunction and temporarily suspended the new law.