This Labor Day we should celebrate America’s hard working men and women, especially the nurses, supermarket clerks, and other frontline workers who have faced unprecedented challenges this year. But as we recognize and honor them, consider that many in your state can be legally forced to pay money to a union or else be fired.

Why? Because Illinois is one of the 23 forced-unionism states remaining in America. In your state, union officials enjoy a special privilege that allows them to legally threaten a worker to pay up or else be fired. By imposing a monopoly bargaining contract, all Illinois employees in a unionized workplace, even those who reject union membership, can be forced to pay union fees to keep their jobs.

You are not alone if you think this is wrong. In fact, poll after poll on this topic shows consistently that 8 in 10 Americans agree that it’s wrong to subject workers to this kind of union compulsion.

While the landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision protects public sector workers from compelled payments, the private sector workforce in forced-unionism states can still be required to fund union officials’ activities, even if they want nothing to do with the union.

While that’s just plain wrong, coercing workers into subsidizing union officials also holds back a state’s economy.

According to a National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) report drawing on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the most recent year for which household income data is available, the mean after-tax household income in Right to Work states was about $4,300 higher than the average for households in forced unionism states.

Business experts regularly point out that Right to Work plays a major role when a company is deciding where to expand an existing plant or facility or where to create a new one. In the manufacturing sector alone, the NILRR analysis found that payroll employment in Right to Work states grew by percentage over three times as much as it did in states that permit forced unionism from 2009 to 2019.

Not surprisingly, workers flock to the opportunities Right to Work states provide. According to the report, from 2009 to 2019, Right to Work states saw their aggregate population of people in their peak earning years (35-54) grow by 1.0%, even as the population for this demographic decreased by 7.4% in non-Right to Work states. All told, the report reveals, the total number of people employed in Right to Work states expanded by 16.9% over this period, nearly double the 9.6% increase in forced unionism states.

And states, wanting to secure liberty and prosperity for their own workforce as well as attract new workers, are increasingly flocking to Right to Work. There are now 27 Right to Work states in America, with five new ones joining the ranks in the last eight years alone – Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Kentucky – the largest expansion of Right to Work protections since the 1950s.

The facts speak for themselves.

Right to Work laws do not outlaw labor unions, and they do not prevent any worker from joining a labor union if they choose. Right to Work laws simply codify one commonsense principle: Every worker should have the choice to join a labor union, but no worker should be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

So this Labor Day, consider the benefits of Right to Work. Consider the newly-created job that your recently laid-off neighbor might land. Consider what an additional $4,300 could do for a family grappling with the financial uncertainty of the pandemic.

Demand your elected officials embrace worker freedom and economic opportunity. Help make Illinois a Right to Work state.

Mark Mix is President of the National Right to Work Committee and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

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