Unions in Texas
Unlike the states of New England and the Rust Belt, Texas does not have strong labor unions because it is a so-called “right-to-work” state. But many people are unclear just what this means, how it affects organized labor laws, and what this means for employees in Texas.
Right-to-work laws are on the books in 22 states – including Texas – and regulate the status of labor organizations. These statutes are legal under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.
In practice, the Taft-Hartley Act made illegal the so-called “closed” or “union” shop. The “union shop” is a workplace in which you must be a due-paying member of a particular union in order to work there. So if you wanted to work at a union-run factory, for example, you would have to be a member of that union in order to do so. The idea of these laws was to break the power of organized crime within unions, in which the leaders were essentially extorting the members.
The benefits of right-to-work laws include:
- Supposed greater economic growth
- Greater freedom of employment
- Less corruption in unions
However, many people criticize the inability of unions to form in right-to-work states, since it limits the ability of employees to perform effective collective bargaining, which can result in better pay and benefits. Critics of right-to-work laws argue that by lowering the effectiveness of unions, employees suffer from lower wages and lax safety regulations.
Though Texas is a right-to-work state, it does have unions; many government employees have their own unions, and even large unions like the AFL-CIO have a presence in Texas. However, like in all other right-to-work states, it is illegal for unions to sign contracts with employers mandating the employment of only union members.
If you or someone you know has questions about Texas union laws or feels that they have been discriminated against for union-related reasons, contact the Austin employment lawyers of The Melton Law Firm at 512-330-0017.