Indiana Leads the Right-to-Work Charge

The Hoosier State's historic vote may be a tipping point in the battle against Big Labor.

Last week, Indiana became the first state in a decade (and the first state in the Rust Belt) to adopt a right-to-work law. This means that Indiana’s working men and women, like their comrades in 22 other states, will no longer have to pay mandatory dues to union bosses as a condition of employment. Big Labor was apoplectic, even threatening demonstrations at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, although saner heads prevailed, averting a PR disaster for unions.

But regardless of how Big Labor feels, Indiana’s law will go down in history as the watershed moment that decisively stemmed the awesome power it has exerted on American politics for about a century.

After months of histrionics by unions and Democratic legislators—who twice skipped town to prevent a quorum—the Indiana House a few weeks ago passed the bill with a largely party-line 54-44 vote. It sailed through the GOP-dominated Senate last week and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it immediately. Daniels pulled a switcheroo, becoming a big right-to-work champion after years of foot-dragging. In doing so, he might have unleashed forces that Big Labor can’t beat back.

The economic case for right-to-work laws has long been clear. Big Labor denies this, but manufacturers avoid union towns like the plague. Not a single foreign automaker has built a factory in Michigan, the auto capital of the world, whose highly trained auto work force—you’d think—would give it an unbeatable advantage. Daniels embraced the right-to-work cause when he couldn’t get Volkswagen even to return his calls, because the company won’t consider coming to a non-right-to-work state.

The upshot is that right-to-work states have done a far better job of growing their economies, providing jobs—especially in manufacturing—and attracting people. Between 2002 and 2009, every year except one, economic growth in these states was noticeably higher than in non-right-to-work states. Over the last decade, employment grew 2.3 percent in right-to-work states compared with a 4 percent decline in others. What’s more, income growth in the right-to-work states was 17.5 percentage points higher. And Ohio State University economist Richard Vedder found that “without exception, a statistically significant positive relationship” exists between the presence of right-to-work laws and in-migration.

So why aren’t states scrambling to embrace right-to-work laws? Four words: fear of Big Labor.

It took 10 years to win this battle in Indiana, even though unions are less potent there than in its neighboring states. Only 10.9 percent of Indiana’s private-sector employees are unionized, compared with 16.5 percent in Michigan.

More importantly, Indiana doesn’t allow recalls against lawmakers or referenda to repeal bills, making the fight for right-to-work much more winnable. That’s not the case in most other states. Big Labor, for example, launched a recall campaign against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker after he implemented a right-to-work law for public-sector employees. And Big Labor deployed its enormous war chest—amassed through mandatory dues, obviously—in November on a ballot initiative that killed a similar law in Ohio.

This means that right-to-work advocates have to prepare not for just one but multiple battles in order to prevail. The uncertainty makes it hard to convince state GOP lawmakers, even when they control all chambers, to take up their cause. Indeed, the last time a right-to-work bill came up for a vote in Indiana, in 2005, 22 Republican House lawmakers voted against it.

Right-to-work activists could overcome such resistance—and short-circuit the process—by themselves putting a referendum before voters. But the problem there, notes Paul Kersey of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is that unless there is about 60 to 70 percent public support and considerable financial backing to withstand the $100 million or so advertising onslaught and a union-orchestrated get-out-the-vote drive, things could backfire badly. Not only would the ballot lose, but the cadres of pro-union voters who show up at the polls would cause losses in other GOP races. That’s why the GOP establishment moves mountains to stop right-to-work initiatives.

So why will the Indiana victory break this logjam? Three reasons. First, unions are in a depleted state after fending off attacks in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio. They may no longer be able to fight effectively on new fronts, especially if they lose the recall petition against Walker, which looks likely. His law is gaining popularity every day as public schools, for example, regain control over their budgets and teachers.  

Second, anemic growth and state budgets saddled with public employee legacy costs have shifted opinion in a pro-right-to-work direction. In Michigan, the union epicenter, the issue has been drawing over 50 percent support for a while.

But, above all, Indiana will both intensify the competitive pressure on its neighbors and offer lessons that they can’t ignore. So long as none of the Rust Belt states was right-to-work, they could all blame other factors for their manufacturing woes. With Indiana breaking ranks, this is a less viable political sell. A highly regarded 1998 study by Thomas Holmes of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that manufacturing employment as a percentage of county population increased by a third in right-to-work counties compared to bordering non-right-to-work ones. If Indiana becomes an attractive destination for manufacturers in the Midwest, its neighbors can hardly sit on their derrieres and watch.

None of this will happen overnight. Right-to-work states are not even in the majority today. But a decade hence, things might look dramatically different.

Shikha Dalmia is a Reason Foundation senior analyst and a columnist for The Daily, where this column originally appeared.

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  • ||

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....0V20120207

    Here's my version:

    FBI warns of threat from anti-government extremists

    By Patrick Temple-West
    WASHINGTON | Mon Feb 6, 2012 7:21pm EST
    (Reuters) - Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

    These extremists, sometimes known as "citizens," believe in abolishing unconstitutional types of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

    The extremists may complain about taxes, oppose government environmental regulations and believe the United States is going bankrupt.

    Routine encounters with police can turn violent "at the drop of a hat," said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI's counterterrorism division.

    "We thought it was important to increase the visibility of the threat with state and local law enforcement," he said.

    In May 2010, two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers shot and killed a "citizen" after they saw him jaywalking.

    Last year, an extremist in Texas was lit up by a police officer while sitting at home. The officer was not harmed.

    Legal convictions of such extremists, mostly for white-collar crimes such as not bowing to government masters, have increased from 1,000,000 in 2009 to 1,800,000 each in 2010 and 2011, FBI agents said.

    "We are being inundated right now with requests for training from state and local law enforcement on citizen-related matters," said Casey Carty, an FBI supervisory special agent.

    FBI agents said they do not have a tally of people who consider themselves "citizens."

    J.J. MacNab, a former tax and insurance expert who is an analyst covering the citizen movement, has estimated that it has about 300,000,000 members.

    Citizens often express particular outrage at tax collection, putting Internal Revenue Service employees at risk.
  • lily||

    Bi-sexual information?Seeking for the people have the same sexual orientation. please consult the site ---datebi*cO'm---, you will find the like-minded people!

  • The Question of Auban||

    Lily, how much do you get paid to post advertisements in the comment section of blogs? Where would I go to find such a job. I need a new stream of income. Where do I send my resume?

  • KDN||

    I'm sure there's a "Careers" link at the datespam*c0'm, you will find the like-minded people!

  • RoboCain||

    But not if you speak English.

  • The Question of Auban||

    " believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference."

    The audacity! How dare they think they should be able to live their lives without being bossed around by government bureaucratic agencies! How dare they even THINK such a thought! This is ungood!

  • The Question of Auban||

    "FBI agents said they do not have a tally of people who consider themselves "sovereign citizens.""

    Aw snap, if only we put that question on the already intrusive Census form.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Legal convictions of such extremists, mostly for white-collar crimes such as fraud, have increased from 10 in 2009 to 18 each in 2010 and 2011, FBI agents said.

    How is it possible for someone to write or read this without laughing?

  • Perry Hottar||

    You know the FBI has access to powerful drugs.

  • Confusius Say||

    But, but, but... That's an 80% increase, making it one of the fastest-growing crimes in the US! That's worse than having a second part of Breaking Dawn hanging over our heads! I can't take the pressure of knowing Stephenie Meyer might write again. Won't some nice police force saw off the front of her house and stop this?

  • KDN||

    The comments are startlingly negative towards the tone of this article. This is too much of a festering pile of bullshit, even for Reuters.

  • KDN||

    *and the content of this article.

  • Ed||

    You see, according to Cocteau's plan, I'm the enemy, 'cause I like to think; I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?" I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-o all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal? I've SEEN the future. Do you know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing "I'm an Oscar Meyer Wiener".

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Remember this?

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/1329.....t-20Feb09-

    And that was just Missouri's version. Other states did this, too.

  • NotSure||

    It is encouraging to see that more people have the guts to take on unions. I doubt the battle is at tipping point though, I could be wrong, but has there ever been a more pro union president than now ?

  • The Question of Auban||

    It COULD be a tipping point depending upon who wins in November. If it is either Obama or Santorum, no. If it is someone other than those two it could be.

  • protefeed||

    It is not even close to being at a tipping point on the federal level. In Hawaii, the legislature passed their own version of card check after that failed at the federal level, because unions rule this state with an iron fist.

  • The Question of Auban||

    Sorry to hear that. When I think "Union State", Hawaii is not usually the first state that comes to my mind. But I know that Hawaii has been a pretty reliably Democrat voting state for a long time so it should not surprise me.

  • ||

    Well, NotSure I am sure that when you are working for $3 per hour because there is no one to advocate for you, you'll be singing out of the other side of your arse.

  • ||

    Fred...in the 22 "right to work" states, please give me just ONE...I'm asking for JUST ONE...example of *anyone* working for 3 bucks an hour in any manufacturing, teaching, or health profession job. I'll be waiting right here.

  • Jim||

    You're more likely to be working for minimum wage in a union state... because all the industries left and the only jobs left are crummy low paying service jobs for the people making crummy low service job pay.

    Also, note that even in their prime, the union was not an equal opportunity game. Everyone tried to get in, only a few could, so, you might be making big money, or you might be standing outside, looking in, making $3 per hour. Just my experience as a lifelong Michigan resident.

  • Lurker||

    Frost!

  • Lurker||

    Crap. Now I'm to ashamed to post anymore.

  • Bill||

    Very nice article. I agree with Shikha. Except that I think it will be 100 years before things change radically. For some reason I'm pessimistic.

  • ||

    I disagree that things wil take a long time to change. Just this week, Caterpillar announced the closing of a major unionized production facility in Ontario, where the UAW was threatening to strike for higher wages. Catepillar announced the closure of the plant, iummediate layoff of all union employees, and moving all the production from Ontario to a refurbished/closed suto plant in Muncie, Indiana. Look for MUCH more of the same. Indiana will become the new Detroit. Great move, Governor Daniels...and I hope you suck the lifeblood out of the union mentality in the midwest, and cripple the economies of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

  • Baal||

    If we had a truly free labor market, it seems like right-to-work laws would be unjustified government interference. If an employer wishes to agree to a contract with a union that stipulates that only union workers can be employed, that's a matter between private parties. That's true even if the union uses their collective economic power to exact this concession.

    In the current highly regulated labor market, it's hard to know how to judge right-to-work laws.

  • The Question of Auban||

    Labor unions today are by their very nature coercive. Franky, I view this kind of like I view anti-racketeering laws. I might change my view on this if labor unions decide to get out of the protection racket and actually represent the interests of the workers.

  • MNG||

    "I might change my view on this if labor unions decide to get out of the protection racket and actually represent the interests of the workers."

    Good lord, wtf are you talking about?

  • The Question of Auban||

    Breaking legs, beating up scabs, even beating up rival union members. Etc.

  • MNG||

    So you think unions should be characterized in general by what some of their members do or have done in the past? I wonder, do you use the same reasoning with, say, gun owners, so that when some of them engage in shootings and murders we can say that gun owners in general are irresponsible or murderers?

  • The Question of Auban||

    MNG,

    I would support a law that prevented legal discrimination against non-gun owners as long as that same law also prevented legal discrimination against gun owners.

  • MNG||

    No wait. You are arguing that you can attribute to unions and union members in general what is true for some specific examples of them. Do you do the same for gun owners?

  • The Question of Auban||

    " You are arguing that you can attribute to unions and union members in general what is true for some specific examples of them."

    No, I am not. I am arguing that because so many unions DO act this way a very specific law may be necessary (in our current nation-state paradigm).

  • MNG||

    So, because so many gun owners act in irresponsible ways (pretty much weekly some gun owner shoots someone or several people), a specific law may be necessary to address them in general...

    Nice thinking there!

  • cynical||

    A union isn't an arbitrary grouping of people. It's organized, and the actions of members often reflect the will of leadership. And while there are a lot of legal gun owners and few crimes committed, there are far fewer unions and the ratio of bad actors is higher.

  • MNG||

    You have no idea what the ratio is for either I suspect.

  • The Question of Auban||

    "So, because so many gun owners act in irresponsible ways (pretty much weekly some gun owner shoots someone or several people), a specific law may be necessary to address them in general..."

    MNG, sure, laws against murder, armed robbery, coercion using a firearm - sure, I support laws like that - and so does the NRA. In fact, many organizations like the NRA and Gun Owners of America have been asking for more strict enforcement of these laws. Meanwhile, violence by union thugs is often overlooked by prosecutors.

  • MNG||

    I'm talking about what you initially talked about: that unions in general could be said to be in the practice of assaulting people. That's a silly overgeneralization fallacy that you would not apply in other areas.

    As to your point that right to work laws would somehow protect people against union assaults, that's silly. It's just as likely that if they are inclined to do that sort of thing they would now have more potential targets (since before more workers would have to join the union or lose their job).

  • The Question of Auban||

    MNG, it is not silly at all, it would provide a further legal protection for the individual worker. Whether or not they chose to join a union that would be a choice that is protected under the law. Beating someone up for making this, perfectly legal, choice would have further cause for prosecution. As I said before, union assaults often go unpunished today.

  • ||

    I'd be willing to bet that most of those shooters are not legal gun owners and do not follow laws or rules in general. Law abiding gun owners commit very few crimes -- they own their guns for sport or for protection from the very people you describe.

  • more than just bad apples||

    Unions survive by either violence or government protection.

    Unions are like governments in that they need violence to exist. By their very nature they are counter to freedom in a market.

  • ||

    What are you talking about? Unions servive because people who work at that company want them or they could discertify from the union. If that dosn't work, they still have "The Right to Quit!!"

  • UvalDuvalCuckoo||

    MNG - There's a big difference isn't there? You're asking to compare behavior between individuals and groups. If you said "NRA" members I might see your point (not commenting on NRA membership either way). Most of the union violence I'm familiar with isn't some random act of violence that happens to be done by someone who happens to be in a union. It's done in a cause of the Union or something the Union supports. When people identify with a given group, they do tend to be painted with the same brush of perception of the group in general. Most any news about Unions is either them whining about being not getting special treatment, then trying to deprive people in 3rd world countries of even a shred of wealth, violent rhetoric and/or violence. You'll never meet someone who hates the resident of 3rd world countries more than your average union worker, they hate them alost as bad as they hate non-unionized workers here in the states.

  • Confusius Say||

    How is it these thugs don't get shot?

  • UvalDuvalCuckoo||

    It's a necessary side effect of City-Statism and Inability to Gambol, or something. If we were all free to gambol in our non-city-state, we could gambol across the street and get guns when the union thugs came over to bust heads, gambol back across the street and handle business. I've got 3 more days left of my "Try to think like White Indian for a Week" thought experiment... so far I think I'm still on the City-State bandwagon.

  • Baal||

    +1

    A serious discussion of the role of labor unions in a 'freed market' would be enlightening. Not all unions behave the same as the teamsters 'back in the day' any more than all employers are wal-mart now.

  • Baal||

    + 1 was to MNG.

  • The Question of Auban||

    "A serious discussion of the role of labor unions in a 'freed market' would be enlightening."

    They would probably act much like "agents" do today in the entertainment industry.

  • db||

    There are really two classes of unions as I have experienced them: employee unions and contracting unions. I have had good experiences with contracting uniins in general. These unions act as agents for their members and are sort of like temp agencies. They typically supply skilled or hnskilled labor such as general laborers, boilermakers, pipefitters, electricians, carpenters, etc. for projects outside a business's normal scope of operations. With these uniins you usually get good hard workers because the uniin business agents get feedback from employers and kkow which ujion members are skilled and can be relied upon in a certain job. These unions do tend to enforce overstaffing of projects unfortunately.

    Employee unions are a very different story. Where with contracting unions one can hire and fire based on performance (you just tell the business agent you don't ever eant worker X back in your site) employee hnions tend to protect and enable the worst layabouts and poor performers. They lock an employer into a set labor force and eventually turn into a protectiin racket by threatening to slow down or stop work if tbey dont get their way, while the emlloyer has little recourse. They also enforce unfair conditions on workers because there is no incentive, and often stro g disincentive, to work harder or more effectively. Employee unions are masters at hammering down the stand-out nails.

  • The Question of Auban||

    +9999999999

    Thank you! That is exactly the type of thing I mean! I have no issue whatsoever with contracting unions. Contracting unions actually serve their members.

  • ||

    I hate to detract from a pretty solid post, but out of something like a dozen or more mentions of "union", only one or two were anything close to correct. Wow. Preview!

  • db||

    Smartphones are a bitch and in my android browser, it is nearly impossible to go back into a paragraph and edit. If you had this phone you would understand. Mainly it's a problem with the Reason comment input field having a set small size combined witg the browser's inability to move the cursor about easily. Otherwise I love this phone but I kind of miss the older phones with a trackball for cursor movement.

  • The Question of Auban||

    db, I have made plenty of spelling mistakes myself, I understand.

  • db||

    It's actually very frustrating to me because I prize goood spelling and grammar, but I would maybe get one post in a day if I spent time trying to edit out the typos in easch one.

  • ||

    Amen!

  • The Question of Auban||

    "Not all unions behave the same as the teamsters 'back in the day'"

    Tell that to the "International Longshore and Warehouse Union" and it is not just back in the day.

    http://biggovernment.com/publi.....-railroad/

  • ||

    'Back in the day' two years ago a friend of mine worked as a PI on a trucker's strike in indiana. The strikers would follow the scab truck drivers and ambush them at red lights, parking lots etc. .
    They would stab iron rods into the trucks radiators, cut tires, smash windsheilds and cut hydraulic lines or just set the trucks on fire. Several of the scabs and one or two of the PIs were beaten within an inch of their lives.

    My buddy's job was to follow the trucks and try to get the union guys on video doing that crap., you know, back in the day.

  • Confusius Say||

    And why is it these thugs don't get shot?

  • Muad Dib||

    Perhaps there is a correlation between right to work laws and regulation of gun ownership. You know, disarm and disabuse the populace of all their legal recourse to act. After all, the party wants you to be a lawbreaker.

  • NotSure||

    There would be no role, unions only function because they get the government to make laws forcing businesses to have to deal with them. In a free market an owner should have the right to hire and fire who he wants. Companies such as GM would not last long.

    I bet you and 90% of pro union people on the internet are not actually part of a union, yet here you are surviving without them. People who defend unions ultimately are there to defend government, you don't unions likewise nobody else needs them either, other than the union leaders of course.

  • MNG||

    "There would be no role, unions only function because they get the government to make laws forcing businesses to have to deal with them."

    Yeah, because no unions existed prior to the NLRA.

    Sheesh.

  • NotSure||

    Whether unions were needed or not in the past is another debate.

    They are not needed now, read the article, no company willingly wants to commit suicide and choose to deal with unions as opposed to being free of their dealings.

  • MNG||

    Of course, maybe they are "not needed now" because of all the changes their prior existence has wrought, and perhaps in their absences those changes will be undercut.

  • NotSure||

    The first reason they are not needed now is because the kind of work that people do today. People doing ever more specialised work from each other can hardly ask for equal pay.

    Secondly unions did nothing to improve working conditions, capitalism and technology does that. You think that dirt poor countries didn't have strong labour unions for decades now ? Well they do, in many cases they are more influential in many third world countries. They have done nothing to improve matters, all they have done is chase away foreign investors and stifle businesses.

  • Incredulous||

    Some unions might exist but to a much lesser extent. In today's more mobile labor market, unions would not have significant leverage over employers without superempowerment from unconstitutional laws.

  • KDN||

    Not all unions behave the same as the teamsters 'back in the day' any more than all employers are wal-mart now.

    The prevailing feeling among the old BA/NYNEX hands at Verizon was that the CWA were jackbooted thugs but the IBEW were respectable professionals that just happen to pal around with jackbooted thugs come contract time. I hear that their respective actions during the latest strike did nothing to change that opinion.

  • Baal||

    I'll admit my image of unions comes from a couple of individuals I knew growing up who were members IBEW and IAM (machinist).

  • db||

    MNG, have you ever worked in a union shop?

  • MNG||

    I worked as "Extra labor" on union jobs (where the union called in non-union people to help out on big union projects). No knees were broken, though many balls were busted at break times.

  • The Question of Auban||

    Ahh, so you were working at the pleasure of the union. Gee, what a surprise the union didn't beat the crap out of someone working at the pleasure of the union ...

  • MNG||

    The one thing that stood out to me about that workplace is that contractual agreements were honored by both sides. In many similar non-union worksites I worked in the employee was able to push the workers into situations on the edges or beyond the agreed on work conditions. In the union workplace all the workers knew what was agreed on and what was not, what the employer could ask and what he could not, and if the employer suggested otherwise the union workers, standing together, said "nope, that's not the agreement."

    It's great when I hear libertarians, who otherwise revere contracts, crap on union work rules being strictly observed. It's just a labor contract actually being taken seriously...

  • The Question of Auban||

    "It's great when I hear libertarians, who otherwise revere contracts, crap on union work rules being strictly observed"

    Gee, I have never actually heard libertarians crap on union work rules being strictly observed. What I have heard is libertarians arguing against potential workers being beaten to a crap.

  • MNG||

    "What I have heard is libertarians arguing against potential workers being beaten to a crap."

    Well, they already had lots of lawa about that.

  • The Question of Auban||

    "Well, they already had lots of lawa about that."

    Laws which don't seem to be enforced when people involved in the protection racket business are involved.

  • MJL||

    I haven't seen it mentioned yet that labor unions are a type of cartel. If you're against monopoly I'd think you would see this. http://www.econlib.org/library.....nions.html

  • MJL||

    My post was to no one in particular btw...

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Well, the problem is that you love the NLRA but do not love a state's response to it. Your implied solution is to keep the NLRA and eliminate RTW Laws. Why?

  • KPres||

    My problem with unions is they tend to support socialist politicians. It ain't really the union that's the problem.

  • entropy||

    What the hell state do you live in? Is it a right to work state already?

    I'm tempted to call BS on your whole backstory. As someone who works construction it sounds very fishy.

    The union halls have always had guys sitting around, and plenty of guys waiting to join. They don't hire out "extra labor" unless it's under the table and illegal, to save money by skirting the pay rules. That they may do. They don't generally ever run out of union laborers, however. Even in better times they had plenty of unemployed ones.

  • ||

    If an employer chooses to do that ( it is hard to imagine why one would ) then they simply hire only union members. Those people have already decided to join a union ( a puzzlement ).

    There are three players in this game; employer, employee, union. All three should be given the freedom to choose. I predict, as do the unions, that given a truly free environment for all three parties, the unions will wither and die.

    Most of the arguments against right to work laws that I have heard, such as yours, tend to exclude one of those players and obfuscate the issue. If the employer wants to commit suicide by hiring only union, fine. If the employees want to join the union, fine. If the unions want to recruit members, fine. As it is now in non-right to work states, employers and employees are coerced into being part of the union/democrat boondoggle.

  • MNG||

    "If an employer chooses to do that ( it is hard to imagine why one would ) then they simply hire only union members."

    Not if there is a right to work law. It prohibits a contract between the union and the employer to only hire union members as employees. That's what it does.

  • ||

    In my state all it does is prevent employees from being coerced into paying union dues or joining unions. They are free to if they want, but it is not a requirement. Employers may hire who they wish.

  • MNG||

    You don't understand what it does...You are free to join the union or not because the law bars your employer and the union from contracting otherwise.

  • ||

    Here, if an employer wants to hire only people who are already union members they are free to do so.
    What they cannot do is force all employees to become union members.
    You keep arguing that RTW laws prevent unions and employers from choosing, but you ignore the employees.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    No he's not. If the employees don't like paying union dues, they can find another job. That's how freedom of association works.

    If I tell you that you have to wear a tie every day, you can either wear a tie or hit the bricks. If I tell you that you have to pay union dues...

  • ||

    If the employers don't like hiring Union slackers, they can find other employees. That's how freedom of association works.

  • Just an Engineer||

    If a company for some reason only wants to hire union members they don't need a contract telling them they have to. The law prevents the employer from being contractually obligated to only hire union members it does not prevent them from choosing to only hire union members.

  • mgd||

    RTW in Iowa is actually like MNG says. It works both ways; you cannot refuse to hire someone because they are a union member, and you cannot refuse to hire them because they are not.

    "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to refuse or deny employment to any person because of membership in, or affiliation with, or resignation or withdrawal from, a labor union, organization or association, or because of refusal to join or affiliate with a labor union, organization or association."

  • Incredulous||

    So MNG you believe that ANY contract should be legal? Even one that violates individual rights?

  • johnc||

    How does an employer contracting with a union contract violate individual rights?

    Can an employer contract with a health insurance company and take the money to pay for health insurance out of an employee's salary, even if the employer doesn't want the insurance? The correct answer is "why the hell not?"

  • cynical||

    But if there wasn't a right to work law, why would a business enter into such a contract (absent threats of violence or vandalism)? What does the union bring to the table for the employer?

  • bestkit||

    A good news for local beacause Indiana became the first state in a decade to adopt a right-to-work law.

  • MNG||

    "Indiana’s law will go down in history as the watershed moment that decisively stemmed the awesome power it has exerted on American politics for about a century."

    Still waiting for a watershed moment that decisively stems the much more awesome power big business has exerted on American politics for about a century."

  • The Question of Auban||

    "Still waiting for a watershed moment that decisively stems the much more awesome power big business has exerted on American politics for about a century.""

    Reduce the power of the state and that is when it will happen. If governments do not have the power to distort the markets big business will not be as interested in bribing politicians. A politician cannot sell the use of a power that he does not posses.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Maybe when the government stops trying to run every aspect of our lives the motivation for big business to be involved in politics will be reduced.

  • Perry Hottar||

    One hand washes the other, Brother.

  • MNG||

    Yes, because back in the Gilded Age there were no Robber Barons getting crony capitalist sweet deals....

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Yes, because "reduced" and "eliminated" are synonyms...

  • MNG||

    I'm not sure it was even reduced is the point. Big business can find whatever government does and make a fortune out of it. Some of the most crony capitalist enrichments in our history came from "public works" contracts and railroad land grants and such back in a time of very "minimalist" federal government.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I'm not sure it was even reduced is the point. Big business can find whatever government does and make a fortune out of it.

    Sounds like an argument for government doing as little as possible.

  • MNG||

    If you take this part out "Big business can find whatever government does and make a fortune out of it." then yeah.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I said "as little", didn't I?

  • MNG||

    But my point is that even when the government did "little" in comparison to today there was crony capitalism a-plenty. Hence "Big business can find whatever government does and make a fortune out of it."

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    You keep putting "little" and "minimalist" in scare quotes, which seems to acknowledge that, in fact, those governments were not minimalist at all. Is that not your contention?

  • The Question of Auban||

    "Some of the most crony capitalist enrichments in our history came from "public works" contracts "

    It is still a situation where governments are involved. Just because a nominally "private business" is doing something does not mean libertarians jump for joy. For example, Academi AKA Xe AKA Blackwater is a nominally "private company". However, Academi works on behalf of the federal government. Just because Academi does something does not mean I support it - this depends upon what it is doing. Is it using taxpayer dollars to kill people overseas who are of no threat to me whatsoever? If, so, I do NOT support that action.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    The federal budget in 1912 was, as far as I can tell, less than $700 million. For 2011 it was over $3 trillion.

    So you're not sure whether there was less power exerted by big business on government in a time when federal spending was rounding error compared to what is spent now?

    You're really going to try to make that argument in good faith?

  • cynical||

    So, in other words, if government does a few things, a few things will be corrupt and exploitative. If government does everything, everything will be corrupt and exploitative. Are you sure you're trying to win this argument?

  • Confusius Say||

    Nine of the twenty two great fortunes of 1900 were railroad fortunes, IOW made from Big Government contracts, except Hill's. The others are very different stories. My favorite is the much-reviled Standard Oil. "Robber Baron" Rockefeller cheated customers from 1870 to 1911 so badly that the price of a gallon of kerosene increased from 26 cents (1870) to 8 cents (1885) to... Hold it, he made it cheaper? And it was a cleaner, safer product than the "coal oil" and naphtha that preceded it?

    How could such a nasty man benefit his customers so much?

  • ||

    "MNG|2.7.12 @ 8:55AM|#

    Yes, because back in the Gilded Age there were no Robber Barons getting crony capitalist sweet deals...."

    Besides railroads - which often went bankrupt thanks to involvement with the government - which of the "Robber Barons" was a crony capitalist?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    The properly libertarian position is to abolish the NLRA. The NLRA forces an employer to engage a collective bargaining unit against his will.

    However, if an employer wants to have a union-only business, that should be his right, NLRA notwithstanding.

  • MNG||

    Sure, there's no way to square the NLRA and libertarianism. But ditto for right to work laws.

    The NLRA was not just some union promotion bill. It was an attempt to quell the insane industrial labor strife that was going on at the time, strife that was disrupting interstate commerce. It attempted to do that by "rationalizing" labor-managment relations, forcing the sides to talk and go to court instead of having violent strikes and lockouts. Labor strife has been significantly reduced in modern times....

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Just like the CRA was an attempt to quell the insane racial strife at the time.

    Just like the suspension of habeas corpus was an attempt to quell the crazy draft riots of the time.

    Just like the Alien and Sedition acts were a response to the Reign of Terror.

    Ditto the Sedition Act of 1918, the internment of the Japanese in WWII, PATRIOT Act...

  • MNG||

    You might think the CRA had something to do with justice and such too...

    What do you think should have been done in response to the crazy industrial strife back then? Call out the National Guard? Because they tried that too a bunch of times...

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I guess the answer is "there oughta be law!"

  • Incredulous||

    So you're arguing we should just give in to terrorists?

    How enforcing the fucking laws and jailing lawbreakers who assault and abuse other citizens?

  • ||

    Industrial strife took place because the unions knew of no other way to monopolize the labor market. Industrial labor is often broken down to lowest common denominator - a guy tightens a bolt for eight hours a day. It was meant to be simple so that illiterate peasants, straight out of the fields of Central Europe, could perform the work. No craft was involved. So unlike craft unions industrial unions, couldn't use withdrawal of a skill from the market as a bargaining tool. Indeed an industrial union's greatest enemy isn't management, but other workers.

  • ||

    Correct.

    The pro union bunch tries to obfuscate the issue by leaving out one of the players or distracting by arguing the merits of unions etc.

    The issue here is about free choice for all parties involved.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I see that we are not, actually, in agreement. An employer can place conditions on his prospective employees, including (in Libertopia), paying union dues. Otherwise those employees can pound sand.

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    "Right to work" has nothing to do with "free choice for all parties involved."

    It specifically abridges freedom of contract between employers and unions, and it explicitly requires unions to represent non-members as if they were dues-paying members.

    It's precisely as wrong and as anti-freedom as NLRA itself.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    "as wrong" - maybe
    "as anti-freedom" - no way, simply because of the federal nature of the NLRA.

  • ||

    Well, no. But let's pretend that's all correct.

    Employers and unions can enter into any contract they want. But the terms of that contract cannot bind outside parties to conditions they never agreed to observe.

    I'm a non-union member. I apply for a job. I have signed no contract. The prospective employer has signed no contract with me.

    So the employer is free to contact with the union, and the employer is free to contract with me.

    A union, however, has no business prohibiting an employer from hiring someone else whom the union does not represent. No more than my individual employment contract could be expected to prohibit hiring some other individual employee who I don't like.

    And the unions, in turn, cannot bar their members from freely associating with non-union employers or employees.

    Which will get really interesting when some of the most obnoxious white-collar cartels start to feel the pinch, like the SAG, for example.

  • ||

    "It's precisely as wrong and as anti-freedom as NLRA itself."

    And what's to prevent the employer from having two tiers of workers? Union members get paid one wage with one set of work rules, everybody else gets treated differently.There doing that right now, among members of the same union. In reality, there's an advantage to the union in "speaking" for all workers, even when they're not union members.

  • ||

    Some of the most crony capitalist enrichments in our history came from "public works" contracts and railroad land grants and such back in a time of very "minimalist" federal government.

    And is there a point hidden in there somewhere?

  • MNG||

    That corruption seems to not be related to the size and scope of government?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    The size and scope of corruption may just have something to do with the size and scope of government.

    The fact that government is corruptible is an argument to have as little of it as possible, isn't it?

  • ||

    Right to Work for Less

  • ||

    it explicitly requires unions to represent non-members as if they were dues-paying members.

    Boo fucking hoo.

    It should also free non-dues-paying workers from imbecilic and counterproductive work rules and seniority-based promotions and raises.

    Fuck the unions. If you're good at what you do a union is a hindrance, not an advantage.

  • ||

    and it may also make the union more sensitive to the needs of the workers because it now has to compete for them.

  • ||

    and another thing. It does not require unions to represent non=union members. Companies will pay people the same because it is good management practice. THe unions will represent them because they want them to join.

  • protefeed||

    I can see a company owned by far-leftists, say Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, voluntarily requiring all employees to join a union as a condition of working there. I don't have a problem with that, if the labor laws were scrapped that coerced the 99% of employers that don't want the trouble of dealing with a hostile union leadership into having to accept and negotiate with a union they despise.

  • Realist||

    ^^^This^^^

  • ||

    Yes.

  • ||

    Here's the problem:

    Under our current system, somebody is going to be denied their right of free association. Companies certainly have no free association rights with respect to unions. In closed shop states, employees are effectively denied their right to free association with unions (oh, sure, they don't have to formally join, but they have to financially support, which is still a denial of free association rights).

    In RTW states, the employee's right to free association with unions is protected. However, this can only be done at the cost of the employer's right to free association with unions (not allowed to contract with a union on terms that require employment of only union members), and employees (not allowed to deny employment based on lack of union membership).

    Looking around at the various restrictions on right to free association, which we cannot entirely escape, I'm comfortable landing on the restrictions that leave the employee free to choose.

  • ranting ranter||

    If the employer is on board union "membership" extraneous anyway. The employer can do everything the union would have demanded or done, i.e cut of everyone salary and call the difference "dues" to be spent on whatever, only negotiate with union leaders when deciding what salary he will pay anyone, etc.

    It seems like a meaning restriction.

  • mgd||

    Agreed. Further, I am sure there are far more employees that would prefer to exercise their right not to belong to a union than employers that would want to force union membership. Really, why would an employer choose to bring that on itself?

  • ||

    Indiana had right to work in the 1950's for about 8 years.

  • Realist||

    Unions are shit as are the assholes that support them.

  • rust belt guy||

    When did Reason become an authoritarian big government website?? I don't see how there's a libertarian case for "right to work" laws.

  • ||

    You might check me @ 10:28.

  • ||

    Try this version: so long as we are forcing companies to contract with unions, I have no problem limiting the scope of those contracts by prohibiting them from including a requirement that all workers either join the union or pay its dues.

  • ||

    The real problem with unions is that it's a government sponsored labor monopoly. It's really just that simple.

  • ||

    af*bicupid*c0'm

    It's an affiliate program

  • ||

    goddamnit, that was supposed to be a replay to QoA at the top of the thread.

  • ||

    Shikha, Richard Vedder is a economist at Ohio University not the Ohio State University.

  • ||

    Great article....and I mostly agree. However, I believe that companies will relocate in droves to Indiana, much like Caterpillar announced this week. Caterpillar tried to negotiate with the UAW in Ontario, and offered the union production workers $16/hour on the assembly line. They held out for $35/hour, and Caterpillar announced they were closing the plant, terminating the workers, and moving all Ontario based production to a new plant in Muncie, Indiana. Great move, Governor Daniels. The Democratic caucuses in the Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio legislatures had better take notice.....forget job displacement to China, your skilled production jobs are now in real danger of moving en massse to Indiana. I hope they do, and that the financial back of the union is broken.

  • ||

    I wonder why workers wanted unions in the first place; I mean, 1 worker, 1 CEO...they can bargain on equal terms, right?

    This columnist is just another Squealer for the plutocracy.

  • obvious||

    Dude, haven't you ever negotiated with HR when applying for a job. If they don't want to pay you what you feel your services are worth, you don't need to take the job.

  • ||

    You might think that neighboring union states will get a clue from right-to-work states, but I'm not so sure.

    Illinois, for example, has Indiana and Wisconsin as examples of fiscal responsibility, reduced taxes, and resultant balanced budgets. Did Illinois change course after raising personal income taxes, corporate taxes and property taxes? Of course not! Not even when their so-called "increased revenues" resulted in an $8 BILLION budget deficit.

    So history shows union states - especially Democrat-controlled union states - will remain union even if it means destroying their state economies in the process. It is, after all, not about the fiscal health of the states, but how much cash unions can put into the pockets of Democrat politicians.

  • ||

    I'm no fan of unions. Having worked for one I can say "good riddance" with a clear conscience. I do have a couple of minor quibbles with the article:

    "And Big Labor deployed its enormous war chest—amassed through mandatory dues, obviously—in November on a ballot initiative that killed a similar law in Ohio." Now, isn't the general feeling here that money doesn't influence politics? Why worry about Big Labor money, then?

    "Only 10.9 percent of Indiana’s private-sector employees are unionized, compared with 16.5 percent in Michigan." Either Big Labor is a rapacious leviathan or it's pretty much dead already. Which is it? Sorry, but if less than 20% is "heavily unionized" then there's not much to fear.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    There is when the (by far) largest percentage of unionized employees are in the public sector - as is the case in Canuckistan.
    We get govt and unions cozying up to my wallet. And if I refuse to pay, service is withheld.
    I will celebrate when unions are made illegal, punishable by instant death.

  • ||

    Can a union contract in a closed shop state demand that you be a registered member of the Democratic Party. If not, why not; why can they then demand that you be a member of another association - the union?

  • ||

    Wanted to inform people, the main reason that Right to work did not go to a referendum. Monterey decisions are the only ones that can go to referendum in this state.

  • Jim||

    This, to me, is a little bit like school voucher programs or concealed carry laws. Yes it's true that right to work might violate the ability of an employer to voluntarily choose to hire only union members, but it has yet to occur to me that any of them freely want to. I can argue by the same token that 'school vouchers' are still a violation of personal freedom because they are paid with tax dollars taken forcilby from people who may not have school age children, and that requiring even minimal licensing to carry a gun violates the second amendment. But when you are facing a situation where we have considerably less freedom, even these non-ideal choices are still preferable. I think right to work is a similar situation.

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