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"Right to Work" States

Author: Kimberly F. Seten, Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP

The National Labor Relations Act (the Act) allows employers and unions to enter into "union security" clauses that require, as a condition of employment, employees to become members in good standing of the union.

The Act also permits individual states to override this portion of the Act if the state has enacted a statute that prohibits the execution or application of agreements requiring membership in a union or payment of dues as a condition of employment. These states are known as "right to work" states.

There are currently 25 states with "right to work" laws. In these states, employees cannot be required to become a member of a union as a condition of employment or pay dues to a union. 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.