2017 Labor Liberty Indicator

Posted by Olivia Grady on Monday, March 6th, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Permalink

Great gains for Worker Freedom in the Past Year

By Olivia Grady

With the 2016 elections came a wave of new governors and legislators eager to pass Right-to-Work laws. The Center for Worker Freedom was delighted by how quickly state legislatures moved on this issue.

In just the last two months, Missouri and Kentucky became Right-to-Work states, making the total count of Right-to-Work states 28. Approximately 167 million Americans are now living in Right-to-Work states.

This year, Iowa also passed a bill that will bring much needed reforms to the public sector. Iowa’s bill is similar to Wisconsin’s Act 10 and is the second bill after Wisconsin that requires union recertification. Lawmakers in Missouri is also trying to pass a similar bill.

While New Hampshire missed out on becoming a Right-to-Work state, we are proud of the contributions we made to encourage legislators to vote for the Right-to-Work bill, and we look forward to New Hampshire becoming a Right-to-Work state in the future.

Finally, with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the constitutionality of local Right-to-Work on November 18, 2016, the Center for Worker Freedom will be helping counties and cities pass Right-to-Work.

Take a look at this map to know if your state is Right-to-Work:

Click here for a downloadable pdf.

Below is a summary of the states who have passed Right-to-Work recently:


On February 17, 2016, Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a sweeping bill that will change state labor law for government employees.

Much like Wisconsin’s Act 10, the law won’t allow collective bargaining over health insurance, extra pay and other issues. It also changes firing procedures and the rules for union certification elections. You can read more about the bill and its similarities to Wisconsin’s Act 10 in my February 7th post, “Worker Freedom in the Hawkeye State.”


Missouri is the latest state to become Right-to-Work after Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R), who was elected in 2016, and the state legislature passed Right-to-Work. It was the last state of its neighbors to become Right-to-Work (Illinois is partially Right-to-Work).

On February 6, 2017, Governor Greitens signed Senate Bill 19 into law after the Missouri House approved the bill on February 2nd with a 100-59 vote. The state Senate had passed the bill 21-12 on January 25th. The law will take effect on August 28, 2017.


Kentucky was the 27th state to become Right-to-Work after Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R), who was elected in 2015, and the state legislature passed Right-to-Work with a speed rarely found in government.

On January 7, 2017, Governor Bevin signed House Bill 1 into law after the Kentucky Senate approved the bill earlier that day with a 25-12 vote. The state House of Representatives had passed the bill 58-39 on January 5th.

Kentucky legislators had tried to pass Right-to-Work for decades, but pro-Right-to-Work legislators did not have control of both houses of the legislature and the support of the governor in the past. In November 2016, voters elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, making Right-to-Work possible in Kentucky.

Kentucky is the last state in the Old South to become Right-to-Work.

The Center for Worker Freedom looks forward to more freedom for workers in the coming months.