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If You Love Freedom, You Should Oppose Right-To-Work

Conservatives are cheering the passage of the Michigan "Right-to-Work" laws.  They think, finally, we have given the progressives a black eye in the heart of liberal-progressive-union controlled territory.  If you think this, you should really go read the law, and then consider these points:

I am certainly no supporter of Unions.  But I am a bigger opponent of unjust government force.

It is true that Unions have taken hold of government, and gotten unjust laws passed that give them an advantage over employers.  The correct solution is to repeal those unjust laws - NOT to pass more unjust freedom-killing laws.

A Union contract in the free market is simply one that makes one private organization (the union) the exclusive supplier of labor to another private organization (the employer).  If such an agreement is entered into voluntarily on both sides, with neither side exercising force, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Exclusive contracts exist all around us - for example soft drink suppliers such as Coke or Pepsi frequently enter exclusive contracts with restaurant or theater chains.

If an employer voluntarily agrees to that contact, then joining a union simply becomes a condition of employment at that company.  When you become employed at a company, you are agreeing to a whole set of rules and policies that the company has a right to request of you.

They can, for example, tell you that if you want to work here, you have to wear this funny hat.  If you don't want to wear the hat, you face the choice of finding employment elsewhere, wearing the hat anyway, or starting your own company that competes with them, and where you DO NOT require people to wear funny hats.

You don't have the choice of running to a bunch of thugs with guns (the government) and having them remove the employer's funny-hat policy through force.

For those who say that an exclusive union contract violates an employee's right to work - you are operating from a deadly fallacy.  If you claim that there is some sort of right-to-work that allows you to coercively compel an employer to behave a certain way, then you must also accept the progressive's notion that there are rights to food, healthcare, or a "living wage" that compel you to provide those things.  There is no difference between these false concepts.  And each of these ersatz rights are used by one side to justify force against the other.

The state of our country today exists after more than a century of government using new unjust laws to try to correct or counter-balance problems created by previous unjust laws.  These Right-to-Work laws are just more of the same.

If, instead, we were to allow unions and corporations to exist without the exercise of coercive force, and we were to allow these private organizations to voluntarily enter into agreements or contracts with one another, I believe we would prove once and for all whether unions are a benefit or a curse.  And we would certainly be back on the road to freedom!

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Comment by Nathan Miller on January 1, 2013 at 4:18pm

While I agree that if a business and an union both agree to form a contract, granting only members of the union the right to employment, then I agree with you.  But that's not how it works.  If the employees of a company vote to unionize, the employer must by law accept the union, as well as closed shop rules.  If the employer does not have the right to reject the "contract" for union employment exclusivity, then the association is not voluntary.  That is coercion, and that is what right to work laws prevent.

Comment by Peter Trippett on January 1, 2013 at 5:41pm

Nathan,

You are correct - the employer must by law accept the union.  That is an injustice.  It is a violation of the rights of the employer to their own property, and their rights to enter a contract voluntarily.

So, you are using the fact of a previous injustice as part of the argument for a new injustice - a further restriction by law on both the rights of the employer and the rights of the union.

That is why I stated that the CORRECT course of action is to repeal the previous unjust laws, namely laws requiring employers to accept union contracts against their will, among others.

The course we are on now will simply result in more injustice, more bad-will between unions and employers, and the problems created now will likely be used justify more freedom-killing laws in the future.  The end result will be the destruction of all of our freedoms.

I am arguing for a return to FREEDOM - where all relationships among men are voluntary, and the purpose of the law is to protect rights, rather than continuously be used as a weapon by one faction against another.

Comment by Nathan Miller on January 1, 2013 at 6:14pm

There are obviously variations within each right to work law, but I was not under the impression that unions and businesses were barred from making such a contract.  I think the point is somewhat moot though, because no business would ever make that kind of contract voluntarily with the union, because they gain nothing and the union gains everything.  Reducing their potential employee pool to only those who are willing to join the union is not within their benefit.

That said, if those kinds of agreements are banned within right to work legislation, I agree with you.  Proper right to work legislation, in my view, would only prohibit unions from forcing their will on the business, against the will of those running the business.

I totally agree with your view on freedom.  More freedom, not less.

Comment by Peter Trippett on January 1, 2013 at 7:07pm

The problem is that the concept "Right to Work" is false.  There is no "Right to Work", anymore than there is a "Right to Healthcare".  No Right can exist that would compel somebody else to satisfy that Right, as it would violate the concept of equal rights.

So, yes, it is the keystone of all "Right to Work" laws that a Union contract cannot contain an exclusivity agreement.

I believe that if we remove Force from both sides of the Union/Employer relationship, that Unions would then become what they were originally intended to be - advocates for good employment practices and safe work environments.  They would be motivated to NOT demand too much of their employer, as the employer would then not sign an agreement with them next time around.

And, it would allow more Unions to exist, and to compete for such contracts, which I think would be a good thing.

They may even turn into something that is a benefit to both the employee and the employer, and a reliable source of productive employees, such that the employer would not be adverse to signing an exclusive agreement with them.

Comment by Nathan Miller on January 1, 2013 at 7:46pm

"So, yes, it is the keystone of all "Right to Work" laws that a Union contract cannot contain an exclusivity agreement."

Without studying every state's right to work laws, I don't think you can definitively state that.  The way the exclusivity agreement clauses are structured in right to work laws does vary from state to state.  

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