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Guess Which Right-to-Work State Is Seeing This Economic Transformation

Apr 25, 2018 by AFP

Guess which state this is, given these hints:

  • Announced $9.2 billion in corporate expansion and new-location projects in 2017.
  • Committed to creating more than 17,200 jobs in 2017.
  • Garnered $2.3 billion in investments by internationally-owned companies in 2017.
  • Exported more than $2.5 billion in goods and services in 2017 — a 4.8 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Passed state-wide right-to-work legislation at the beginning of 2017


If you guessed New Mexico, you’re wrong. But it certainly could be one day, if the state applies that last bullet point. New Mexico is a non-right-to-work state.

The mystery state’s lawmakers passed right-to-work legislation Jan. 7, 2017. When signed into law, the state became the 27th in the nation to allow workers to choose whether to join and pay a union.

By the end of that year, the mystery state saw tremendous economic growth. That growth follows the record of other states that passed state-wide right-to-work bills and saw similar results.


New Mexico Is on the Right Path

Although our state laws currently force workers to join unions, it’s clear that New Mexico doesn’t want to get left behind on this economic prosperity trend. We’re passing these laws at the local level.

Otero became the second county in our state to pass local legislation on right-to-work when it did so in April. We had rallied in Sandoval County to pass a local ordinance in January.

But, if we’re going to pass these at this rate, it’s going to take New Mexico years to give all its residents right-to-work freedoms. That’s too long to keep hard-working New Mexicans at a disadvantage.

New Mexico’s employment has decreased by 7 percent since 2007, according to the Pew Charitable Trust. That’s more than any other state. Meanwhile, Wisconsin (a right-to-work state but not the mystery state) is around the top of the chart in employment gains.

Local lawmakers need to vote “YES” when right-to-work bills are on the table — and they need to do it quickly.


Right-to-Work Works

If elected officials need more reasons to support right-to-work, here are five, in no particular order:

  1. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that right-to-work states enjoyed twice the job growth rate of non-right-to-work states between 1990 and 2014.
  2. Right to work means more jobs – including union jobs. From 2005-2015, union membership grew in right to work states while shrinking in non-right-to-work states.

Michigan (which is not the mystery state here) passed right-to-work legislation in 2013 and saw payrolls increase by 4.5 percent from March 2013 to August 2015. During that same period, manufacturing jobs increased by 46,900.

In Illinois, where workers are forced to join unions (definitely not the mystery state), payrolls only increased by 2.3 percent. The state lost 10,900 manufacturing jobs, too.

Right-to-work legislation makes states more attractive to both workers and entrepreneurs. New Mexico deserves that same economic evolution.

Yet in our state, too many workers are forced to pay union dues to keep their jobs. New Mexico should add itself to the list of states benefiting from passing right-to-work laws.


So, What’s the Mystery State?

We can narrow the mystery state down to two possibilities. Only Kentucky and Missouri have passed right-to-work laws since 2017.

There is no reason New Mexico couldn’t be one of the next to become a right-to-work sate.

Four of our neighbors — Utah, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma — have been right-to-work states for a while. A fifth neighbor, Colorado, has its own version of right-to-work protections with its Labor Peace Act.

Arizona passed right-to-work laws all the way back in 1946, one of the first states to do so. Arkansas and Florida were the very first in 1944, and Nebraska was behind Arizona by one month.


The answer to those hints: Kentucky.

If we were a right-to-work state, maybe New Mexico could have been the answer.

Visit to learn more about how we can bring worker freedom and economic prosperity to our state.