Collective Bargaining

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on the Future of Right to Work After Indiana


After a 10-year hiatus, Indiana became the 23rd state in the country to embrace a right-to-work law that will ban union bosses from coercing workers in closed-shop companies to pay dues. Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia examines in her column at The Daily what this means for the future of the law. Big Labor is livid and will do everything to stop it from spreading to other states. As in the past, it'll try to scare the GOP establishment with dire political consequences. But, she notes:

Indiana's law will go down in history as the watershed moment that decisively stemmed the awesome power that Big Labor has exerted on American politics for about a century…

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…

 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…

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. [Big Labor will] try to scare the GOP establishment with dire political consequences.

    I think it was Eldredge Cleaver who told blacks that more of them should vote Republican because voting 95% Democratic left them with no leverage. The unions are in a similar situation now.

    1. Bingo. The Repubs are learning they have nothing much to fear from the unions. When Scott Walker survives uniongeddon in WI, where he is subjected to the full pressure that the national unions can bring to bear, focussed on one mid-sized state, well, even Republicans can do that math.

  2. That actually makes a lot of sense.

    1. Yes. Yes it does.

  3. The only coercion here is federal law that requires unions to provide service (wage negotiation, representation in disciplinary matters)to any worker in the bargaining unit whether they pay dues or not. No one is forced to work at a unionized establishment, just as people who don’t want to wear silly uniforms for low pay don’t have to work at fast food joints. It’s not about Right to Work, it’s about Right to Freeload.

    1. Funny, I thought the coercion here was the federal law that required companies to do business with unions.

      I make you a deal: any company that voluntarily hooks up with a union can require all of its employees to join the union.

    2. Shorter Idiot: derp

    3. If they don’t want “freeloaders,” the unions should just negotiate members-only contracts with the employers.

      Problem solved.

      Wait, what’s that? The unions WANT monopoly bargaining privileges granted them by the government?

      You mean they actively lobby for the “burden” of representing everyone?

      Well then . . .

  4. Why rip down what the free market brought? Is the market really free when workers can’t form unions on their own free will, even if it perverts into something completely horrible a century later?

    1. Three points. First, the free market does not bring requirements that a worker belong to a union–it was the Wagner Act. Second, workers can form unions all they want in a free market economy–provided anti-trust laws (which are not free market) don’t intervene. Third–why shoudl workers be bound by a union vote taken generations earlier. Shouldn’t there be regular certifications to make sure the workers are getting value from the union?

  5. So it’s the free market, not legislation that provides unions the power to forcibly extract dues from non-members? That is an interesting perspective.

  6. federal law that requires unions to provide service (wage negotiation, representation in disciplinary matters)to any worker in the bargaining unit whether they pay dues or not.

    What if those non-union workers “surrendered” not just the supposed benefits of union wage scales, but also union seniority and work rules?

    A worker who has not paid for the privilege of union “protection” against the onerous burden of performing tasks outside his narrow job classification should be able to install light bulbs and flip switches without waiting around for the union electrician to be ferreted out of his hiding place.

    A worker not “shielded from the evil scourge by merit-based promotion by union seniority rules should be able to leapfrog any union member.

    If you want to be fair, that is.

  7. Typing is hard.

    …”shielded” from the evil scourge of merit-based promotion…

  8. RTW laws aren’t particularly libertarian. An employer should be able to require employees to be in a union. Not many, but some, employers welcome having a limited number of pay ranges so they don’t have to negotiate with every Tom,Dick and Sally who feels he or she deserves a raise this week.

    1. I dislike unions so much (public sector unions, really) that I don’t want to acknowledge that you make a good point. But, I’ll grit my teeth and say it. Good point. +1 for you.

    2. We went over this ad naseum yesterday. I said much the same thing, and was shouted down.

      Everyone lets their union-hate get in the way of their common sense.

      1. Well to be fair, it seems like there is provision in the law for forcing companies to accept unions whether they want to or not. Apparently once 50% vote for it, the company is bound by law to negotiate with the union.

        So, while yesterday I was leaning towards the idea that prohibiting an employer from extracting union dues was a violation of the right to contract, today I’m more ambivalent because the arrangement between the unions and the private companies does not seem to be *voluntary* contract.

        I still think the solution is not RTW, but repealing the law which forces companies to negotiate with unions, but I don’t think RTW is as clearly anti-contract as it first seemed.

    3. Oh and the best part was a poster named “Just An Engineer” who asserted that he absolutely knows, for a fact (presumably with his god-powers) that no single employer in America would ever voluntarily have a union, ever.

  9. An employer should be able to require employees to be in a union.

    This makes no sense to me; if you said, “An employer should be free to establish rigid work rules and job classifications for the employees working in his facility, and follow a strict policy of promotions and pay raises based of seniority regardless of productivity or talent” I would be more willing to see/concede your point.

    I would think the guy was a fucking idiot, but that’s a different issue.

    1. What doesn’t make sense? It’s the employers job to give, not mine, or the governments. Whether we think it makes sense or not, he should be free to tack whatever stupid conditions he wants on his job, up to and including joining a union, or wearing big floppy clown shoes to work.

  10. When I say, “makes no sense’ I mean on a conceptual level, not as a matter of business efficiency.

  11. Saying “An employer should be able to FORCE his employees to join a union” makes no more sense to me conceptually than saying, “An employer should be able to FORCE his employees to join Westboro Baptist Church.”

    Or the Girl Scouts.

    Or the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Or the Assiniboine Tribe.

    1. I’m fine with it. Don’t like the rules? Don’t work there. Enough people will get fed up with stupidity like that and not work there… or perhaps the pay is well enough that they grin and bear it.

  12. Of course, we also have the inevitable hurdle of poorly defined terms and premises. If it’s a privately held sole proprietorship, feel free do whatever stupid shit turns you on. Make everybody wear flowers in their hair. Make them turn their wrenches with their feet.

    If it’s a corporation, the managers have a fiduciary duty to safeguard their bosses’ (that is, the people who OWN the corporation) investment; turning your labor policies over to a union because you’re a lazy douchebag who wants to shirk his responsibilities is a no-go.

    And for those of you who want to play the “Don’t invest there” gotcha, fine. Just as long as you admit my right to shoot the first union organizer who shows up on my property and attempts to interfere with the operation of my enterprise right in the fucking adam’s apple.

  13. And, of course, there’s that whole government interference/ coercion business.

  14. I’m not well read on this, but should we forget that this is a state response to a federal law? If the federal law says an employer must negotiate with a union, is it not a rational response for a state to try to undermine that authority in some way?

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