Traditionally, in certain workplaces that contain unions, all new hires must join the union as a condition of employment. This is so all workers who get protection from the union contribute to the union’s financial well-being. However, this is not the case in all states. In some states, right-to-work laws exist which prohibit employers from discriminating or excluding job applicants who do not wish to join the union and pay union dues.
Right-to-work laws are extremely controversial since many believe that they undercut the power of unions. According to FindLaw, New York state currently does not have right-to-work laws.
What do right-to-work laws do?
Basically, a right-to-work law will prohibit a workplace from having union membership be a condition of employment. However, even if employees do not choose to join the union, in right-to-work states they still have the same benefits and coverages as the unionized employees do. In some cases, a union may even represent non-unionized employees since the union cannot deny a non-unionized employee benefits.
Why do these laws exist?
Individuals and groups that champion right-to-work laws say that it is not fair to require people to join a union as a condition of employment. This is particularly so since unions are often very much involved in politics. This means that money from union dues may support certain politicians or causes that individuals in the union do not agree with. Right-to-work laws, according to proponents, protect the individual.
However, New York is not one of the states that has passed a right-to-work law. This means that employment may still be contingent on union membership.