What Does “Right To Work” Really Mean?

Today’s post is about debunking some popular mythology.

Arizona is a Right to Work State. What does that mean? Most folks think that means that an Arizona employee can be fired at any time for any reason. Some folks believe it means that there is no overtime pay in Arizona. Other folks think it means that no employer can prevent you from working for a competitor.

They are all mistaken.

Right to Work simply means that in Arizona an employee does not have to join a union to get or keep a job.  An Arizona employee is not required to pay union dues – even in a union shop.  This right to be free from having to pay union dues comes from the 1948 amendments to the National Labor Relations Act – specifically Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act. This federal law permits the States to decide whether to require employees who are in a collective bargaining unit represented by a labor organization to pay dues to or join that union. Arizona voters and the Arizona Legislature, along with about 20 other states, said no. Michigan surprisingly recently adopted Right to Work laws.

The Arizona Employment Protection Act of 1996 codifies employment at will – which means that, unless there is a written contract or a public employee due process right to the contrary, employers can fire employees at any time, with or without notice, for a good reason or no reason.

What about a bad reason? We will talk in another post about the exceptions to employment at will.

Employment at will is a two-way street because employees who are at will can quit their jobs with or without notice for any reason – even a bad reason.

Yes, there is overtime pay in Arizona. We will talk about this in another post.
Yes, courts can and do enforce covenants not to compete. We will talk about this in another post.

By the way, E-Verify, which is required in Arizona, has a poster which says Right to Work. An employee who can prove identity and eligibility to work in the United States has a right to work under our immigration laws.


Until next time….

Gentle Reminder:  This is general information; not legal advice.


For more great legal articles, go to: http://www.localwork.com/blog/things-you-may-not-have-known-about-the-american-workplace

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