May 12, 2016 - 10:30am

State Labor Reforms to Promote a Favorable Business Climate


Executive Director, Labor Policy

The U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative (WFI) today released “State Labor Law Reform: Tools for Growth,” a report that highlights ten policy proposals to promote a more favorable business climate. 

With gridlock in Washington, DC, legislation on labor and employment issues has increasingly shifted to the states.  While federal preemption is a concern with any state law in this area, the ten proposals featured in the report have already become law in at least one state (in some cases more) and have been written to avoid a successful preemption challenge.

Some of these laws are well-known and have been part of the larger discussion on labor and employment law for decades.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is right-to-work laws.  Over the past four years, states like Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have enacted right-to-work, bringing the national total to 26 states, and several other states may do so after 2016.

Other laws have come onto the agenda as a result of the administration’s anti-business regulatory policies.  For example, several states have passed legislation that clarifies the definition of a franchise or defines the joint employment standard to be used under state law.  These laws respond to the expansive new joint employer standard established by the NLRB’s decision in Browning Ferris Industries

A number of states have also passed preemption bills, which limit the ability of local governments to enact a patchwork of ordinances covering issues like the minimum wage, paid leave, or labor peace agreements.

The State Labor Law Reform report outlines several other types of legislation that states have adopted, including laws against mass picketing (picketing that involves threats of violence, obstruction of public streets, etc.) and trespassing, as well as legislation that prevents unions from demanding card check and neutrality agreements using coercive tactics.

With legislative gridlock and a hostile regulatory climate in Washington, many states are taking the lead in passing labor law reforms to nurture a positive business climate.  The State Labor Law Reform report highlights a number of ways other states can do the same.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean P. Redmond
Executive Director, Labor Policy

Sean P. Redmond is Executive Director, Labor Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.