The latest version of Oxfam's Best States to Work Index technically ranks the District of Columbia as the best place for strong labor laws. Among the states, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine and Oregon took the top spots, with Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut following closely. In addition to being the first state to pass an emergency COVID-19 standard this year, Virginia enacted numerous laws regarding minimum wage, employee misclassification, wage theft, prohibiting non-compete agreements with low-wage workers, hair discrimination, and discrimination by sexual orientation. As expected, Republican-controlled states that have passed right-to-work laws to weaken unions fell to the bottom of the list.
Labor laws are complex and different laws are a higher priority for people based on their individual experiences. Oxfam researchers found a link between states with strong labor laws and states with higher life expectancy, median income and labor force participation, as well as lower rates of poverty and infant mortality. It also notes whether or not state law allows cities and counties to pass their own minimum wage increases; takes into account policies that protect workers from abuse and exploitation, especially working women and parents; and analyzes how easy it is for workers in a given state to train unions. Get answers to labor law publication questions that commonly baffle employers in various states and locations.
I know DC isn't technically a state, but if it were, the District of Columbia would be at the top. For example, the minimum wage in the District of Columbia is almost double that of Virginia, just a few miles away (although this will change with the new legislation). While Congress may not be achieving much these days with regard to labor laws, dozens of state legislatures have been very busy in recent years giving workers more rights than ever before.