screen-shot-2014-08-15-at-8-22-12-am-1085225A recent online survey asked, “should employees have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union?”

Nearly 83 percent of New York respondents said yes, they should.

That’s a telling figure — especially in the nation’s most unionized state.

Of course, the real question is not whether a worker is forced to join a union, but whether he or she is forced to pay union dues (in the form of an “agency fee”) as a condition of employment.  In 24 right-to-work states, the answer is no. In states like New York, the answer is yes: even if you don’t want to be part of a union, you have to kick into its coffers.

The survey was conducted by Google Consumer Surveys and sponsored by National Employee Freedom Week, a non-profit coalition whose position on right to work shouldn’t be hard to guess.

The same 83 percent of respondents nationally agree that employees should have the right to decide whether to join or leave a labor union, according to the brief internet survey. Additionally, the survey found that among those union members polled, 71 percent would not opt out of their labor union if they could — not the armageddon some would describe in the context of offering employees a choice. Again, of course, the key question is dues – i.e., that fee.

A shift seems to be developing towards choice (not to be confused with anti-unionism) when it comes to union membership. Take for example the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Harris v. Quinn, which wasn’t without consequence for New York. Or, the 2012 move from Michigan making it the nation’s 24th right-to-work state

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Tim Hoefer

Tim Hoefer is president & CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

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