If you are looking for the best states for workers, steer clear of “right to work” states, says a new study. The Oxfam America report reveals that the ten worst states to work in America are the following, which are all “right to work:” Louisiana, Tennessee, North Dakota, Idaho, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia.
And the ten best, none of which are “right to work,” are District of Columbia, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
Oxfam relied on three indicators for their rankings: wage standards, worker protection, and right to organize. Oxfam also notes that “good ratings on labor policies definitely relate to positive economic and health indicators. For example, states with higher scores have longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates.”
For the full report, visit Oxfam here.
For example, the minimum wage in DC is $14 an hour, which means a full-time worker earns more than $29,000 annually. In neighboring Virginia, the minimum is $7.25, which means that a worker earns just over $15,000 annually. As all costs of living have climbed steadily over the ten years since the federal wage was last raised, the worker earning $290 a week is struggling just to meet basic needs. In California, workers have protections regarding sexual harassment, accommodations for pregnancy, regulations on scheduling demands, and mandated paid sick and family leave. In Virginia, there is no guarantee around accommodations for pregnancy, no mandated paid sick leave, and no legislative support for best practices in work schedules. All these policies add up to more equitable workplace practices. Oxfam maintains that working families fare better when they earn higher wages, have rights to organize, and enjoy protections around paid leave and family supports.
The right to organize
Regional contrasts are stark when it comes to rights to organize; 21 states have a perfect score, while states in the South offer few, if any, rights. At the bottom, four states have no legislation to support the right to organize: Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama. 4 In other words, they are all “right-to-work” states, prohibit project labor agreements, and do not allow public workers (teachers, police officers, and firefighters) to engage in collective bargaining and negotiating wages.