Transforming Labor: A Comprehensive Review of the States

Is Pennsylvania a worker-friendly state?

To answer this question, CF published a report, Transforming Labor, which examines and grades all 50 states according to the impact of their public sector labor laws on taxpayers and union members.

We found that Pennsylvania earns a nearly-failing “D” compared to other states. The commonwealth does not respect a worker’s ability to choose union membership, does not protect taxpayers from collecting union political money, does not require contract negotiation transparency, and the list goes on.

Progress in other states reveals reforms Pennsylvania can pursue to improve worker rights—and consequently protect taxpayers’ resources and boost the state economy.

In the last six years, Americans have seen an unprecedented sweep of public sector labor reforms. Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and, tentatively, Missouri have most recently joined the roll of right-to-work states, which now outnumber forced-union states 28 to 22.

Highly-ranked states prohibit or have strengthened the parameters of collective bargaining, have increased the transparency of union contract negotiations, prohibit using taxpayer resources from funding the collection of union dues and political money, require regular union elections, and protect workers who do not want to be union members.

While some states are merely silent on these issues, Pennsylvania laws actively restrict worker freedom.

The report also examines the benefits of labor reform in other states. For instance, collective bargaining changes led to over $3 billion in retirement savings in Wisconsin and $250 million in healthcare cost savings in Massachusetts in just several years.

Pennsylvanians can be encouraged that labor reforms not only spark further good government changes and save taxpayer resources, but routinely withstand court challenges. Most recently in 2017, both West Virginia and Wisconsin high courts upheld the legality of right-to-work.

This detailed analysis demonstrates to policymakers and taxpayers the broad spectrum of reforms that can increase workers’ freedom of association, shield taxpayers from overspending, and produce budget savings.

Public sector labor reforms continue to spread across the nation. Instead of being left behind, Pennsylvania can pursue reforms that will make our state a more attractive place to live and work. 

You can find more information in the full report, including an online, interactive version of the 50-state table available at