According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union employees accounted for 14.3% of wage and salary workers in Minnesota in 2013, compared to 11.3% nationally. The union membership rate of public-sector workers is more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (35.3% compared to 6.7% nationally). It is no surprise that the public sector has been called the last refuge of unions in the United States.
The National Right to Work Committee is pushing "Right to Work" laws nationwide that would eliminate fair share fees for union members. In Minnesota, all union employees have the option of becoming a full union member, or simply paying fair share fees. Fair share fees only fund the union's operating costs, and do go towards political or other activities.
The purpose of fair share fees is to prevent freeloading. Whether or not employees become full union members, they still benefit from the union's representation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union workers, on average, receive larger wage increases, earn higher wages, and have greater access to benefits than their non-union counterparts. Under a "Right to Work" law, employees can take advantage of the benefits of union representation without paying for it.
The freeloader problem cripples the union's ability to operate. It can not only bring down wages within unionized employers, but in the state at large. According to a Wall Street Journal article, "Right to Work" state have lower wages but higher employment. Currently Minnesota does not have a "Right to Work" law, but the debate arises now and again. For more information, see the following: