A Brookings Institution study of large corporations’ location decisions, based in part on interviews with prominent corporate location consultants, found that right-to-work laws did not figure anywhere in the typical decision process of big businesses (Cohen 2000). Even small manufacturers—those thought most likely to base location decisions on low wages and the absence of unions—don’t identify right to work as an important criterion in deciding where to locate plants. Area Development magazine conducts an annual survey, asking primarily small manufacturers to rank the factors that most influence their decisions about where to locate facilities. In 2009, right to work was ranked 14th in importance,
below such factors as highway accessibility, available land, and construction costs. Indeed, in the years for which Area Development reports data, right-to-work has never made it into the top 10 most important factors shaping location decisions (Gambale 2009, 2008).
In fact, Site Selection magazine reports that the best locations for the type of high-tech industries that are now a priority of most states’ recruitment efforts are predominantly found in free-bargaining states (Burns 2011). The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s 2010 State New Economy Index—measuring each state’s economic dynamism, technological innovation, digital transformation, knowledge jobs, and integration into global trade—ranked free-bargaining Massachuse s, Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut as the most desirable and best positioned locations for the globally competitive industries of the 21st century. Indeed, nine of the top 10 ranked states are free-bargaining states—states with strong education systems, world-class universities, robust digital infrastructure, and a skilled and stable workforce. Michigan ranked 17th, ahead of all but two of the 22 right-to-work states (Atkinson and Andes 2010).