Labortarian Link

Herbert Spencer was a laissez-faire libertarian best known for coining the term "survival of the fittest"; he is frequently caricatured as a social Darwinist who despised the disadvantaged. In honor of Labor Day -- or just to see how far off a caricature can be -- read his surprisingly supportive statements about trade unions and worker-owned cooperatives.

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  • BTS||

    I never quite understood why most mainline libertarians despise unions so. Don't workers have as much a right to free association as the next guy? Aren't unions an excellent check on the power of the employer? Seriously, I think capitalism fails to be the best of all possible systems without workers' unions.

  • Jim H||

    I dislike unions because I was once a member of a union. It wasn't a helpful thing for me, since all raises were determined by seniority rather than merit or initiative.

  • SxCx||

    My only experience with a union involved being coached by men in their late forties on how to slack off without getting fired.

  • Franklin Harris||

    I never quite understood why most mainline libertarians despise unions so. Don't workers have as much a right to free association as the next guy?



    In theory, yes, but I really doubt unions in anything like their current form could exist without the legal protections given them by the government -- laws that force businesses to recognize and deal with unions once they have organized. In a free market, it would take a very strong union with highly skilled, hard-to-replace employees to force a business to deal, and high-skilled employees like that don't unionize like they used to as it is.

  • ||

    BTS,

    I worked in a few steel mills in the late 1990's early 2000's. I found the USWA to be a violent organization that could get away with assault and expensive acts of vandalism because Federal law gives them immunity.

    A union as a voluntary association is a wonderful thing. But an organization that uses violence and threats of violence to force people to do business with it is a pretty pernicious thing.

  • ||

    I have a friend who used to work in Pittsburg, at a union shop. He said he had to park his Subaru Brat a few blocks away so it wouldn't get vandalized.

    IMHO the unions get a bad rap because they earned it, from Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters, to the closed union shops and the petty violence inflicted on those who don't toe the union line, the unions are their own worst enemy.

    I read that the largest growing sector of union involvement is in the public sector. That should tell you something about the climate of innovation in government.

    Government bureaucrats SHOULD NOT BE IN A FRICKIN UNION. They make plenty of money. Let them come out into the real world and have to create wealth or hold down a real job with real budgets and time limits.

  • Brad Spangler||

  • ||

    Standard libertarian line:

    Consensual unions are acceptable but probably couldn't survive on the freemarket. Also, modern day unions are coercive.

    True as far as it goes, but what about coorporations. Why do we give the benefit of the doubt to corporations as the natural market outcome despite their statist failings?

    Yes, perhaps large, limited liability corps could survive in the freemarket but their is little reason to think that they could survive without all the state assistance and coercive power they currently enjoy.

    Libertarians need to be consistent with corporations and unions.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Maybe I'm being overly optimistic here, but I wonder if much of the conflict between libertarianism and the left over unions could dissolve if we find fairly easy common ground about government's role in the union question.

    The First Amendment's promise of the right to peaceable assembly extends to unions as well as to churches, synagogues, mosques, small businesses, big businesses (i.e. "corporations"), charities, and advocacy groups like the ACLU, the NRA, the Sierra Club, and the Reason Foundation. But beyond that, let's abolish any law that directly helps or hinders organized labor in its relationship to managers and employers.

    In a certain, qualified manner of speaking, the best minds of both libertarianism and the left shouldn't be running away from Social Darwinism on this particular issue anyway. Fledgling organizations, whether intended to make a profit or not, face an admittedly brutal struggle for survival against forces that would pull them apart. In the heat of the political moment, it may seem cruel not to let the law favor the underdog. But since, as Dickens wrote, the law is an ass, honest people will be ever diligent against the Law of Unintended Consequences--perhaps in lawmaking more than in any other human activity.

  • ||

    It is reasonable to separate the excesses of a particular institution with those of all institutions of the same class. If it short-sighted to damn all corporations for the mendacity of Enron then so too it is mistaken to admit no benefit from unions in general based on the misdeeds of one local chapter. Apocryphal tales of union corruption abound. But so too do tales of wanton corporate mistreatment, to such an extent that the latter balances out the former.
    As an aside, it's worth pointing out that, during the civil war, it was not uncommon in the industrial centers of the north for supporters of the federal government to carry signs saying "No chattel or wage slavery". While that sentiment may have been overstated form the standpoint of the abolitionists, its presumption about the people's right to demand progress in human liberty in both private industry and government seems spot on to me. And lest anyone think such an idea is nowadays quaint, I would refer those critics to the Maquiladoras of northern Mexico and the sweatshops of Thailand, keeping in mind that "fair trade" stands at least as much opposed to protectionism as to neo-liberalism.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Yes, perhaps large, limited liability corps could survive in the freemarket but their is little reason to think that they could survive without all the state assistance and coercive power they currently enjoy.

    Libertarians need to be consistent with corporations and unions.

    If you don't think we libertarians strive for consistency on this issue, you don't delve very far into our literature. A little learning...

  • ||

    Uhm, theophanes, libertarians are pretty hostile to the special legal breaks given by governments to corporations as well.

    Speaking for myself, I am opposed to any organization that enriches itself not by producing goods and services that it or its customers desire but rather by taking stuff from others at gunpoint.

    To the extent that governments help out large coporations like IBM, Microsoft, General Dynamics and PBS by giving them wealth seized from producers, or by eliminating competitors, we condemn them.

  • ||

    Both my parents were union steelworkers. The stories they would tell me of incompetent people getting their jobs back through the union would make most anyone cringe. They are unbelievably corrupt.

    I don't think many people have a problem with a union, per se. It's just that joining a union is a requirement to work in most places, and it's legally protected to be that way. It's a legal racket.

  • theophanes||

    I'm well aware that libertarians are opposed to corporate welfare, etc. and they understand the difference between modern day capitalism and a real free market.

    BUT, I don't know how many times I've been in conversations with libertarians where they have felt the need to defend Walmart, Bill Gates, etc. to the death as scions of free enterprise and private property. WTF. I'm just saying that the attitude and assumptions libertarians take to unions should be the same one they take to big corporations. After all if you got rid of the coercive parts like taxation and monopoly any institution would be legitimate, congress would be a legal principal review body, public schools would be community schools, gulags would be summer camps.

  • ||

    "A union as a voluntary association is a wonderful thing. But an organization that uses violence and threats of violence to force people to do business with it is a pretty pernicious thing."
    Yeah, and management has never used violence or the threat of violence on anybody, nor government rent seeking (of blacklisting or restraint of trade)...
    "The stories they would tell me of incompetent people getting their jobs back through the union would make most anyone cringe. They are unbelievably corrupt." And management never lets people keep (or lose) their jobs for things that would make you cringe, and they are never corrupt.
    " Also, modern day unions are coercive." Yeah, and modern day corporations are never coercive, because you don't really have to eat to live. Someone with 100 times the capital you have can coerce you into pretty shitty bargains because you will starve way, way before he does. Libertarians failure to see the coercive power of vastly unequal bargaining power, as well as their failure to see the coercive power of non-governmental institutions like the family, church and community are no friends to liberty. You guys make a fetish out of the idea that coercion=force and nothing more. That's bullshit, people are constrained by more than force.

  • Kevin Carson||

    Franklin Harris,

    Actually, I think Wagner pushed organized labor tactics into an entirely different model--one that was more suited to management interests.

    Without the state's process for union certification and collective bargaining, with the declared strike as the main weapon, labor action would likely be geared a lot more toward direct action on the job. It would take advantage of the nature of the employment relation as an "incomplete contract," the impossibility of specifying or defining most job duties ahead of time, and the impossibility of verifying performance on the job. It would rely a lot more heavily on unofficial slowdowns, "open-mouth sabotage" (whistleblowing to the press and to customers), "working to rule" (the passive aggressive tactic of obeying bureaucratic company policy literally and thereby paralyzing the company), and "good work strikes" (taking at face value the company's claim that the customer comes first).

    Labor struggle in a free market model of unionism would rely mainly on the contested nature of the workplace: the labor contract being by its nature incomplete, workers would try to minimize work expenditure compared to pay, in the exact same way capital tries to minimize pay in relation to effort. The outcome would depend entirely on their relative bargaining power in the workplace. And given all the monitoring and agency problems presented by the wage relation, I'd expect workers to have the same advantage over management as do their counterparts in any other asymmetric warfare scenario.

    With Wagner, on the other hand, labor abandoned all such tactics, and union bureaucrats were put in a position of enforcing contracts against wildcat action and direct action on the job by their own membership.

    The main practical effect of Wagner was comparable to telling the farmers at Lexington and Concord, "Here. Come out from behind those rocks and put on these bright red uniforms, and march in parade-ground formation, and in return we'll set up an arbitration body to make sure the redcoats don't mow you down all the time."

    I've written at length about it here:
    "The Ethics of Labor Struggle: A Free Market Perspective"

  • ||

    The union often gets a contract that does indeed restrict the freedom of bosses, the freedom to fire arbitrarily, the freedom to bully folks into working overtime or through their breaks, the freedom to sexually harass or racially disriminate. Oh the horror of such restrictions on freedom! Of course the same restrictions give the workers more freedom, but screw them, they should have quite and just gone elsewhere (let's ignore that most people on this post would be hesitant to quit a job they have had for decades or to quit work every few years and look for something new [think of what that does to things like your benefits or pay grades] or that many occupations occur within labor markets that have become amazingly standardized [think of airlines or movie theaters, you only have a limited nunber to work with]).
    I've always thought that libertarians, if they wanted to live up to their name, should support minor restrictions on a few in order to maximize freedoms for the many. Otherwise call yourselves contractarians and at least have some truth in advertising!

  • ||

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    You say that vastly unequal bargaining power is a form of coercion, because A with 100 dollars can hold out longer than B who has ten dollars, but if B is not employed by A Mr. B may starve.

    My question for you is: why coerce Mr. A, and not the farmer Mr. C? After all, it is the farmers who don't sell for below a certain amount of money who "coerce" those with less bargaining power, not the employers.

    You talk about "freedom" through "minor" coercion, but working from first principles I would expect one holding your position to advocate a government-run farm giving out free food, not the non-sequitur of demanding that the freedom of association of the employer be abridged.

  • ||

    We have seen that unions perform their natural function when three conditions are observed; association with the union is voluntary; the union confines its activities to collective bargaining; the bargaining is conducted with the employer of the workers concerned.
    Barry Goldwater
    The conscience of a conservative

  • Mike Laursen||

    BUT, I don't know how many times I've been in conversations with libertarians where they have felt the need to defend Walmart, Bill Gates, etc. to the death as scions of free enterprise and private property. WTF.

    It's a pretty common human reaction, when person A comes at person B with an argument made very confrontationally, for person B to react defensively with an equal amount of passion, often overstating his actual opposition to what person A said.

  • ||

    I never quite understood why most mainline libertarians despise unions so.

    This statement comes up pretty frequently in labor threads and it generates responses from people who either personally had a negative experience with a union or were 1 degree removed from the person receiving the negative experience.

    The struggles of organized labor have bennifitted all workers and they should be proud of what they achieved.

    I believe workers should be allowed to organize and seek redress against their employers. If the employers try to thwart their employees from organizing, the government should step in and penalize the employer.

    I also believe, if the employees have a good relationship with the employer, they should have the right NOT to form a union, and if there is any intimidation from the union side, they should be penalized also.

  • ||

    Other than being extremely anti-social, Spencer had nothing in common with libertarians. And he was a "Georgist" too

  • iih||

    I never could quite understand the hostility towards unions by some libertarians. As a libertarian newbie, I think the answer should be simple and easy (no government laws required to protect employer or employee):

    If worker(s) demand higher rewards they have a right to stop working. The employee then has a right to fire the striking employees and hire new ones. So workers would better be confident of their position. If their skills are in high demand, then employers ought to pay more for the workers'/employees' services and be really nice to them. If the skills are in abundance, so I guess workers ought to just do with what they have. Free markets and mutual consensus at work. Simple! Am I getting something wrong?

    The fact that modern corporations and unions have become abusive or violent, respectively, should not incriminate both concepts (corporations and unions). There are clear laws against abuse, stealing, violence, etc, that should be applied to any member of society (individuals and organizations alike) who violates the law.

  • ||

    Hmm... I would never defend Bill Gates as he always put out mediocre products and competed not on merit but by the happy accident of controlling the desktop for a while. But honestly - that situation is fixing itself not by the government interface but by the market changing and Microsoft once again -not getting it- (think Zune and Vista) and their competitors are and this time they have clout (think Google and Apple).

    I will leave with one comment on unions in the public sector:

    "Greg Knoblauch, a veterinary technician who has worked at the school for 10 years, says that because the University is funded with taxpayer money, it has an added obligation to pay a fair wage and bargain in good faith."

    I think that pretty much says it all. This reference comes from a member of a union that will strike next week at the UofM.

  • Jesse Walker||

    gulags would be summer camps

    Theophanes wins the thread.

  • ||

    Labor Day is such a communist holiday, I almost feel like working as a protest.
    (Well, "almost" is an exaggeration. I've got it: contributors to the Libertarian Party should work in protest.)

  • ||


    If worker(s) demand higher rewards they have a right to stop working. The employee then has a right to fire the striking employees and hire new ones. So workers would better be confident of their position. If their skills are in high demand, then employers ought to pay more for the workers'/employees' services and be really nice to them. If the skills are in abundance, so I guess workers ought to just do with what they have. Free markets and mutual consensus at work. Simple! Am I getting something wrong?


    You hit the nail on the head. However, most advocates of unions don't believe that workers should simply be able to negotiate collectiveley. They believe that business should be forced to deal with them.

    Currently, it is illegal to "descriminate" by refusing to hire someone who belongs to a union. The worker, on the other hand, is allowed to accept or refuse work for any reason that he or she wants. That is what is unfair.

  • iih||

    Chalupa:

    I am glad to see that we agree on something (unlike our last discourse).

  • ||

    "survival of the fittest"

    You mean this statement may refer to commercial competition that pits corporations against corporations all trying to improve the lives of their customers the best they can??

    I can see how the left could hate such an idea.

  • iih||

    Chalupa:

    This was supposed to be in addition to what I said above but something somewhere went wrong.

    Currently, it is illegal to "descriminate" by refusing to hire someone who belongs to a union. The worker, on the other hand, is allowed to accept or refuse work for any reason that he or she wants. That is what is unfair.

    Right. This is a problem with the status quo and, hence, fundamentally, libertarians should have no problem with unions.

  • ||

    iih,

    Yes, in theory, nothing wrong with unions. Some research into the history of the union movement, however, shows that a small government labor organizer is an oxymoron.

    Off topic, do you live here in America or Egypt?

  • ||

    Libertarians failure to see the coercive power of vastly unequal bargaining power, as well as their failure to see the coercive power of non-governmental institutions like the family, church and community are no friends to liberty.

    By that standard, a hot chick at a club full of horny men has coercive power over them, and a drug dealer has coercive power over his addicted customers. I suppose we should regulate those activities as well?

    Those who call plainly non-coercive relationships "coercion" in order to justify govt interference are also no friends to liberty, Mr Nice Guy.

    I've always thought that libertarians, if they wanted to live up to their name, should support minor restrictions on a few in order to maximize freedoms for the many.

    Well, you were wrong then. Which few? Which many? Who decides which is which? The devil's in the details, my friend. Once you stray from the strict definition of coercion (ie, deprivation of one's current bodily integrity, liberty, or property by force or fraud) forever will the statist side dominate your destiny.

  • ||

    The main reason I don't like unions is the, "if we strike, you strike with us" mentality. Often there is a strike fund which runs dry before the strike ends. I like the idea of collective bargaining, but I want to decide when I don't want to work. I don't want to be called a scab for crossing the picket line and supporting my family.

    Close second reason I don't care for unions. The union leadership always seem to come out OK, even if a company is forced out of business due to the demands of the unions. What good is no job?

    The only consolation to those who have lost their jobs is the, "Boy we really showed that evil corporation" mentality. Hollow reward, nothing but a lose - lose.

  • SIV||

    Chalupa,

    In theory an IWW organizer should be a small gov type as they are/were anarcho-syndicalists.Of course,on the left particularly, things never work out as planned.

  • iih||

    Chalupa:

    Off topic, do you live here in America or Egypt?

    Do you mind asking why you ask? On other H&R forums I have provided an answer to this question.

  • iih||

    A little bit of relevant history (especially that SIV mentioned anarchists in his latest comment, that this is about the history of unions, and that today is Labor day): Sacco and Vanzzeti's execution anniversary was less than two weeks ago (August 23rd).

    An insightful encore interview on Diane Rhem was on today:

    http://wamu.org/programs/dr/

  • ||

    Unions are often as pro War on Some Drugs (WoSD) as the Federal Government.

  • ||

    Unions are cool with drug testing.

  • ||

    Sorry crimethink, but I think it's obvious to most folks that institutions other than government can do plenty of coercion, and they can do it without force or fraud. No man is an island, as pointed out long ago in On Liberty and in Tocqueville "public opinion" or "social approbation" can be the most suffocating of personal liberty (especially lifestyle liberty). And unequal bargaining can easily be coercive. A man without capital must sell his labor to make a living, and he must sell it to one with capital. Nearly all those with capital are in a position to wait out one who has only his labor to sell.
    You may say, well the market will punish those who pass up on that fellows excellent labor. Well, it may be a strike against that capitalist, but capitalists with many strikes against them often do quite well, thank you, quite well enough to continue their unjust behavior and flourish (especially if they started with, earned, or fell into a large amount of capital) for many generations. Perhaps the sins of the capitalist will be visited on the heads of his great-grandkids, but of course that's hardly justice as the Old Testament pointed out...
    It's worse. The capitalist can starve out the small businessman. Capital begets capital, giving those who start with it a major advantage. A good idea may or may not attract investors or earn a start up loan, but capital and networks will get one faster. The one with capital can swamp the start up with advertising blitzes, cut rate production (they can afford the loss better since they had more to start with, essentially starving out the small business man the way they did the employee), etc., So the market can, over time, break down large irresponsible concentrations of capital, but it also builds it up. The fact that over time these things add up often mean little as far as the justice warranted to any set of individuals...
    You ask, who decides and which few. That's easy. Ask yourself in the case of legislation: will this maximize liberty and autonomy overall? If the answer is yes, vote for it. If no, say nay. Of course, yes, my strategy will make for more government, but as I see that coercion can come from other areas this is OK as long as the overall level of coercion is lowered.
    Don't get me wrong: often government coercion is the problem. And it's coercion, force, is the worst. But it ain't the only game in town!

  • ||

    "I like the idea of collective bargaining, but I want to decide when I don't want to work."

    I like the idea of the union representing me as part of a group in order to get me a better contract than I could get by myself, and I realize that part of the reason they can get me one is the threat of strike, but I like to make that threat an empty one because I gots to get mine. Cliff, you're like the guy who asks your buds at a fight "you got my back right" and then run when they start to get beat down...

  • ||

    iih,
    As a peaceful anarchist, I really dug that encore interview today.
    Perhaps caught up in the time of bombings, Sacco and Vanzeti weren't able to renounce violence.

    It's like trying to scrape dog shit off the bottom of your golf shoes:
    There are still far too many anarchists unable to renounce labor unions, communism and, most importantly, violence.
    If a significant number could clean off the shit, it would be a breath of fresh air to political discussion in general.

  • ||

    "Unions are cool with drug testing."

    Actually management often throws in drug testing as a bargaining chip, forcing the unions, who often oppose it (especially in the past) to concede something. Now that the WOD is a religion in mainstream society many unions acquiece almost immediately, but many unions (including many pro sports unions) fought drug testing during collective bargaining (or fought to make the process less harsh).

  • iih||

    MNG:

    It would be nice if you can leave a line between paragraphs. It makes reading your comments easier.

  • iih||

    Ruthless:

    I remember reading about S&V in my American history class in college. But today's interview was very interesting. The guest on Diane Rhem was essentially making the case that S&V may need to have a re-trial especially given the anxiety of the times about communism, organized crime, anti-Italian hate and fear, etc. I personally can not judge as I have not read anything beyond what I have read in college and today's interview.

    Peaceful anarchism is appealing, though not very practical (I have hard time accepting that the notion of zero government is possible in a modern society). Violent anarchism is plain stupid.

  • ||

    Cliff-Of course management is MORE for drug testing than unions ever were or will be. In fact, just about the only significant opposition to it comes and came from unions. From the ACLU's page on drug testing (the ACLU has fought hard against drug testing):

    "In most states, private sector employees have
    virtually no protection against drug testing's intrusion on their privacy, unless they belong to a union that has negotiated the
    prohibition or restriction of workplace testing."

  • ||

    "Cliff, you're like the guy who asks your buds at a fight "you got my back right" and then run when they start to get beat down..."

    No, I'm a guy who likes to be rational about the fights I pick and I stand my ground regardless of which side I might be on.

    If a company that I work for opens the books and says we can only afford this much and the unions call for a strike because they think they can get more, I may want to keep working for what I'm making. Unions cause companies to off shore what they can produce cheaper.


    Unions have served their usefulness, when there was egregious violations of safety and compensation. Now things are different. Unions are an amusing anachronism. The only place they are growing their ranks is in the government.

  • ||

    "I have hard time accepting that the notion of zero government is possible in a modern society"

    iih,
    You've got to hand it to most anarchists that they don't cotton much to "possible."
    Why should anyone care about possible?
    Heard of reaching for the stars?
    No one has ever caught one, but stars have charted many a course.

  • iih||

    Ruthless:

    Why should anyone care about possible?
    Heard of reaching for the stars?
    No one has ever caught one, but stars have charted many a course.


    :-) Yes. I knew that that is exactly what you were going to say. And I like it!

  • ||

    Sorry crimethink, but I think it's obvious to most folks that institutions other than government can do plenty of coercion, and they can do it without force or fraud.

    It's also obvious to most people that marijuana should be illegal. I'm under no delusions about most people agreeing with me; the fact that most people (including you apparently) are fuzzy about what constitutes coercion isn't really a surprise.

    That's easy. Ask yourself in the case of legislation: will this maximize liberty and autonomy overall? If the answer is yes, vote for it. If no, say nay.

    Ah, is it really that easy? Pray tell, how do we determine whether a particular piece of legislation "maximizes liberty and autonomy overall"? Wouldn't that require foreknowledge of all the side-effects of the legislation in advance?

    I'll stick with the bright dividing line between force and fraud on the one side and noncoercive activity on the other. Grand schemes to maximize liberty by government action always make matters worse in the end.

  • ||

    Mr Nice Guy,

    Seriously, are you implying that you think the State should be interfering in the internal workings of families, churches, and social organizations that exert influence on their members?

  • Timothy Leary||

    RE: drug testing.... an employer should be able to choose who they want employ.

    The most "intrusive" drug testing is mandated by Federal Law in the USDOT standard.

    You can chose NOT to work for an employer who requires drug testing.

    Pre-employment screens don't paticularly bother me as they merely require a potential employee to show he was "straight" a couple of weeks before the job interview.

    "Random" testing totally blows as it is an attempt to control the employee and a positive result or refusal can be used to damage your employability with others--- but you don't have to work there.

  • SxCx||

    Certain unions in the entertainment industry do a good job of stiffening the labor market, by being awarded jobs on all upcoming productions without allowing the producers to consult the greater pool. This means the same surly crew works on every gig that hits town; a monopoly on employment, in effect.

    If any company decides it wants to hire non-union (for a change), a hostile leaflet campaign roars to life and doesn't tend to quit until the production abruptly ends or caves to hiring union workers exclusively. (see Blue Man Group)

    I know folks trying to break into film/television/theatre jobs and they find this whole framework frustrating as shit, and understandably aren't excited about taking over for the uninspiring cabal that precede them.

  • ||

    A while ago, on a thread about employee/employer contracts, I posted a thought experiment:

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/117159.html
    (Its somewhat far down)

    At the time, I don't think I made it clear enough what my hypothetical example had to do with the topic. So now that similiar issues are being discussed, I'll clarify what I was getting at.

    In general, no particular person is considered obligated to employ or trade with any other particular person; and no employer is obligated to offer employment on any particular terms. However the sum total effect of many individuals excersizing their rights in this regard may be, in some cases, that certain individuals are left with a range of options which, shall we say, leaves much to be desired. My hypothetical was an extreme case of this.

    I wanted to get at whether or not there are any situations in which the reader of my thought experiment would support/justify, or at least not condemn, an action that violates a strict interpretation of the non-agression principle; and is calculated to expand/improve the options of someone whose situation is inadequate.

    Of course, if one says "yes" it raises substantial questions. For example: How bad does someone's range of options have to be to get such consideration? And what forms of violating action are acceptable/forgivable/etc. Some on this thread have commented on restricts on an employer's freedom of contract, aimed at benefiting an employee who would otherwise have to either accept undesireable employment terms or endure financial hardship while looking for a new source of income. This could be one proposed form of what (for lack of a better term) might be called "acceptable agression" or "forgivable agression".

    Well, gotta go. Its already late and I have a job interview tomorrow (technically today).

  • ||

    BTS @ September 3, 2:38pm:

    I never quite understood why most mainline libertarians despise unions so.

    The main reason for my, and I believe other libertarians,' antipathy toward labor unions is that they so often use their political muscle to push for more statism and bigger government.

  • ||

    Hi Kevin Carson,

    When I saw the subject of this thread, I thought that you might make the scene. Good to see you!

  • ||

    There is nothing wrong with Unions as such, as long as they are FREE associations not specifically protected by the state. Come to Germany or France, you will get an impression of what a Union can become (and always will become). They act as if they were a huge national company and they have as much social networking as the usual politicians, actually they are like a small government inside the government.

    I think it is this inherent problem of big organisations that they structure themselves after the biggest organisation (and most successful one) available: the government.

    For Example, the Volkswagen corporation had to bribe the union representatives who were mandatory in their management circles, in order to remain competitive to the other automobile companies, because otherwise the unioneers had vetoed all the supposedly "bad measures to the poor workers"...

  • Kevin Carson||

    Same here, Rick.

  • Brad Spangler||

    I'm seeing the same old pattern of half-truths and missing puzzle pieces in this discussion.

    It's NOT that unequal bargaining power IS coercion. Simple (or innocent) inequality is a fact of life. Rather, a systematic regime of gross inequality can only RESULT FROM coercion (i.e. deviations from a true free market).

    Look, the beautiful girl in a hot tub at a frat party is not exercising coercive power (even though she has a naturally large degree of bargaining power) if she's not violating anyone's rights.

    When someone has a huge degree of bargaining power BECAUSE the state violates the rights of others on their behalf, or the violation of the rights of others by the state serves to give the third party some unfair advantage in a contextual sense, then we have an issue.

    I maintain that such injustice is precisely what unions arose in response to in the first place.

  • Robert||

    In addition to the faults of unions mentioned already, they have the defect of tending to fail in the one thing they're supposed to be about: getting a better deal for their members. In practice, in an organiz'n of considerable size, there is a tendency of unions to become either boss's unions or Mafia unions. Concentrated benefits, diffuse costs are ripe for the plucking by either the boss or an outside party. It will always be easier for the union to side with the focused boss or capo than with the unfocused rank & file.

  • ||

    "But honestly - that situation is fixing itself not by the government interface but by the market changing and Microsoft once again -not getting it-"

    This situation has been fixing itself for about fifteen years now. And, let me tell you, I've really started to feel the pinch.

  • ||

    I have a friend who used to work in Pittsburg, at a union shop. He said he had to park his Subaru Brat a few blocks away so it wouldn't get vandalized.

    This is true. As a native of Pittsburgh (don't forget the "h"), the Steelworkers' Union has a sign in their parking lot that says, "Foreign Cars Will Be Towed"

    My friend parks his Nissan there, only because he keeps a Union hat in the dashboard for just such an occasion.

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