The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report detailing the top states for “food security,” a term for the availability of food and one’s access to it.
The five states at the bottom of the list are North Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, all of which have so-called “right to work” laws on the books.
The correlation is not direct, but the effects of these laws on all workers, union and non-union alike, are well-documented. States with “right to work” laws, which make it more difficult for unions to operate and advocate on behalf of their members, have lower average wages, higher rates of poverty, spend less on education, and have more workplace injuries and fatalities than state without “right to work” laws.
In states where unions can operate without the law’s interference, workers are more able to advocate for their needs in the workplace without fear of retaliation: from their hourly pay to their safety on the job.
It’s not surprising that with the interference of “right to work” laws, workers in North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas are less likely to make enough money to adequately feed themselves and their families, and less likely to be able to change their situation through organizing.
Even with all the data, reckless politicians and their well-monied allies continue to push “right to work” laws. Missouri’s Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told supporters he will continue to fight for a “right to work” law in his state, even though a Republican supermajority could not bring the measure to the floor this past year. Corporate-backed think tanks are pushing similar initiatives in Oregon and Washington.
While not every food related problem can be fixed by higher wages, policies that intentionally lower wages must be taken to task. They are a troubling, culpable piece of America’s deteriorated health puzzle.
We support the right of workers to have a voice on their job, and to make at least enough money so they don’t have to wonder where their next meal — or their child’s next meal — is coming from. We don’t think that’s a lot to ask.
Note: Because of the government shutdown, the USDA site hosting the report is offline.