What is a Right to Work State? Union vs Nonunion Labor

Are you a contractor or facilities manager considering the merits of union vs. nonunion labor? Find out how to find a contractor for your business or facility that fits within your state’s collective bargaining regulations.

“Right to Work” States

During the Great Depression, the advancing progressive and labor movements led to many employers being required to hire exclusively union labor. While employees saw their salaries increase in union shops, as time went by, the political tide turned against mandatory union membership in many states. The anti-union movement was called Right to Work, and Right to Work laws that prevented any union from demanding union membership of all employees in a workplace were quickly passed in several states.

Currently, nearly half of U.S. states have Right to Work laws on the books. In these states, no employee can be compelled to join a union or support a union financially with his or her paycheck. These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • Guam (U.S. territory)

In states without right to work laws, businesses looking to find a commercial contractor may find that some contractors require union membership. Whether to hire a union-only contractor or not depends on what your priorities are.

Union Labor Pros and Cons

While it is not possible to find a contractor who uses exclusively union labor in a right-to-work state, if you are in one of the 27 U.S. states without a Right to Work law you may want to consider union commercial contractors. These contractors tend to hire laborers with greater skill and may also have industry-leading safety standards enforced by union contract.

However, union labor has detractors – and for some good reasons. Union laborers cost more, and companies seeking to find a reliable commercial contractor to meet a tight deadline may find themselves hampered by hefty overtime requirements. Union laborers in some unions may also be difficult to replace, even if they perform poorly or fail to complete their assigned tasks.

Non-Union Labor Pros and Cons

Non-union labor tends to cost significantly less than a unionized commercial contractors. Typically, a non-unionized labor force will require you to pay only the overtime amounts mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (time and a half for all hours over 40 worked in a week), and may not include as many breaks, increasing work time.

However, in some situations, business owners may not see these cost savings as worthwhile. If a business owner wants to find a commercial contractor for a politically sensitive project, for instance, they may want to avoid non-union shops with a history of safety issues or hiring illegal workers.

How to Find a Contractor in a Right To Work State

When a company is hiring a contractor in a state with Right to Work laws, they won’t have an all-union labor force available. If your company needs to find the best commercial contractors, with high safety standards and quality work, using a high quality contractor directory like Fixxbook to search for local contractors is a great place to start. Business owners looking for commercial contractor services can use Fixxbook’s comprehensive search terms to find the perfect contractor in their right to work state, searching based on the specific needs of their company.

It doesn’t have to be stressful to find a good contractor who can do exactly what you want them to do. Easy to use for contractors and business owners alike, Fixxbook can narrow a complex contractor search into manageable results. Find out more in our How it Works section.


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