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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.

Currently, there are 28 "right to work" states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Note that West Virginia's "right to work" law was enjoined pending resolution of several legal claims but the injunction was lifted by the state Supreme Court on September 15, 2017. Therefore, West Virginia's law is currently effective. In addition, Missouri's "right to work" law was poised to become effective on August 28, 2017 but is currently suspended pending a public vote in November 2018.