Right to Work

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on What Big Labor Will Do Now that Michigan Has Become the 24th Right-to-Work State


In a piece on Bloomberg View, Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia points out that even though right-to-work is now law in Michigan, this doesn't mean that it's all over. Big Labor is going to launch a long two-year war in which it will deploy every judicial and electoral weapon in its arsenal to overturn the law. She notes:

Labor has two options now that its ability to extract mandatory dues from workers as a condition for employment is gone. It can fight the law or try to persuade workers to voluntarily pay up.

Union bosses aren't accustomed to the second approach, so until the next elections in 2014 they can be expected to try everything to overturn the law and to stop the right-to-work fever from spreading to neighboring states.

Go here to find out what Big Labor's next moves are going to be and whether it is likely to succeed.

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  1. In Ohio, unions managed to scrap an anti-labor law through a referendum. Under that process, all they had to do was obtain the requisite number of signatures for the law to be automatically suspended, pending a vote, which went in their favor. But this option is not available in Michigan because the new law is appended to an appropriations bill and is therefore referendum-proof.

    Ugh. I despise legislative chicanery even when I support the legislation itself.

    1. Yes – as a resident of the Great Lakes State (former State Motto: “Toronto Sends Us All Their Trash to Bury!”), although I’m enjoying the pain and anguish of the unions, the twickewy and subterfuge stuff is a little offputting.

      On the other hand, part of me says, “well, that tool IS available to them, so kind of hard to argue they shouldn’t use it…”

      Which gets back to why peaceful anarchy (and certainly minarchy) has just become more and more attractive to me through the years….

      PS Fuck the unions anyway – you asked for this, you assholes. Enjoy the fruits of your “labor”…HAHAHAHAHAHA!

      1. Well, the funding was funding to enforce the RTW bill, if that helps.

        I’m not a big fan of direct democracy, so this doesn’t particularly bother me.

        1. Yeah, I’m not losing any sleep over it.

          Let’s face it – after 8 years of that dumb bitch Granholm, Snyder seems like a Libertopian dream. Most all his moves have been “less spending, less state control, we can’t do everything, state will not bail out cities….”. I’m good with all that!

          1. But what about the city that had to sell their radio station?

            1. Umm… A city owned a radio station?

    2. Ugh. I despise legislative chicanery even when I support the legislation itself.

      I don’t.

      The fucking socialists have been using trickery for decades to advance collectivism. It’s time to use every trick available to advance liberty.

      1. There’s already an ideology dedicated to employing socialist tactics to fight socialists.

        1. I think you’re supposed to say:

          You know who else was dedicated to an ideology of employing socialist tactics to fight socialists?

          1. Oh! I know this one!

            The Republican Party?

        2. “Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. “

  2. Using government force to stop workers from being forced to join unions?

    They’re using force to stop people from using force!

    It’s tyranny!

    1. heller showing up to re-start the argument about “force” in 3….2….

    2. Keep gubmints nose out of my business. Unless it’s abortion. CUz thats coo.

  3. Why are cops and firefighters exempted anyway? Do those unions donate to Republicans or something?

    1. Why are cops and firefighters exempted anyway?

      Pure politics. The lege didn’t want to take on the particular piece of pubsec that still has wide public support.

      They can clean them up later. Who knows? With so many of their brethren pocketing bigger paychecks because they aren’t paying union dues anymore, the cops and firefighters may split on this.

    2. You REALLY need to ask this? Where do you think most cops come from?

      1. Where do you think most cops come from?

        New Detroit?

    3. Probably to take the “they want to crush our public heroes” rhetoric out of the Union arsenal.

    4. Cops because if they don’t like you they can ignore you when you actually need their assistance (“You’re the guy who voted to bust our union?” *click*), and firefighters have been declared sacred since 9/11.

      1. Remember the good ole days when the left was reflexively anti-cop?

        1. Nope. I’m not that old.

  4. What about the poor oppressed business owners who really really really want to have a union shop, but are being prevented from doing so by this odious dictatorial usurpation of their right to free association?

    Who will stand up for THEM (besides heller)?

    1. I will. A bit. Freedom of contract and all that.

      Here’s a scenario: employees of some business decide to forma union. They organize their demands, including having a closed shop, and say they’ll go on strike if the owner does not agree. The owner values those particular employees enough that agreeing to their demands seems like the most beneficial option available. So he agrees to the conditions.

      As long as the employer has the option of saying “fuck you, you’re all fired” I have no problem with this. Which is probably not the case now, but I don’t like using one bad law to balance another.

      But, I recognize that this objection is pretty insignificant in terms of actual reality and really have little problem with RTW balancing all of the pro-union laws.

      1. As long as the employer has the option of saying “fuck you, you’re all fired” I have no problem with this. Which is probably not the case now, but I don’t like using one bad law to balance another.

        That is definitely not the case now.

        1. This is exactly the case of a bad law (in that it imposes restrictions on bargaining) to mitigate the distortions created by a worse law.

          The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Section 8(a) declares it an “an unfair labor practice for an employer” (5) “to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees”.

          This effectively prohibits an employer from contracting with workers outside of the union as it constitutes a “refusal to bargain”, which courts have upheld (J. I. Case Co. v. NLRB).

          This restriction gives unions undue bargaining power, and the “Right-to-Work” laws are an attempt to reduce union power so as to level the playing field.

          Repeal the “Refusal to Bargain” law and the playing field will be leveled, and there would be no need to invoke “Right to Work” laws.

      2. The employer has the freedom to take it in the ass or close shop.

        In the case of public sector unions it is the taxpayers who take it in the ass because government doesn’t close shop.

        1. Right. Which is why instead of passing more freedom restricting laws, the laws forcing employers to deal with unions should be repealed.

    2. I will believe that STEVE SMITH graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sarah Lawrence with a degree in Wymmins Studies, before I believe that there is a single such business owner. I don’t even know a single manager who would chose union employees over non-union.

      1. It doesn’t matter if they want a closed shop. Of course that will be no employers first choice. But I can imagine a scenario where no one is forced to do anything and where the best outcome for the employer is to allow a closed shop contract, see above. Freedom of contract goes both ways and if employees want to withhold their labor to try to get the employer to agree to what they want, then they can do that too. And the employer should be allowed to tell them to take a hike.

  5. I’m not that old.

    I am, I guess. I even remember the days when sending people to jail was viewed as inherently undersairable, and reserved for the truly incorrigible and dangerous.

    1. I grew up in the 80s when television programs glorified cops that kill bad guys, especially bad guys who sell drugs, meanwhile MADD and other organizations were advocating “deterrence” in the form of jail for every imaginable offense.

      1. schoolmates

  6. It can fight the law or try to persuade workers to voluntarily pay up.

    Hahahahahahaha. As if.

  7. Here’s a scenario: employees of some business decide to forma union. They organize their demands, including having a closed shop, and say they’ll go on strike if the owner does not agree.

    Nice. You’ll fight to the death for that employer’s right to surrender to coercion?

    I have asked many times previously, and received little satisfaction:

    Let’s say the mythical employer exists who WANTS a union shop. Even in a Right to Work state, there is nothing preventing him from hiring three or four guys to do one man’s work, and to establish rigorous work rules restricting each man to a narrowly defined portion of the task at hand. If he wishes, there is no law preventing him from designating one employee exclusively limited to loading the trucks, and another to unloading the trucks. Nothing prohibits him from hiring one guy to turn the machine on and another to turn it off. There is no law on the books establishing a MAXIMUM wage, or forcing him to pay the guy who sweeps up the chips less than the most skilled machinist.

    If this figment of heller’s imagination wants to, it is completely within his power (all the way to the door of bankruptcy court, at any rate) to perfectly recreate all of the conditions which would exist in a closed union shop. Why don’t we see such enterprises springing up on every street corner?

    1. Because greedy business owners don’t understand that they have a moral duty to create jobs, and instead they greedily take profits instead.

      So we need laws to force them to do the right thing.

    2. The “closed shop” term would be a quid-pro-quo in exchange for other concessions (lower wages & benefits, flexibility in hiring and firing, etc.)

      It’s just one bargaining chip in the overall negotiation.

      Right to work outlaws the “closed shop”, leaving fewer potential possibilities for agreement.

      1. Except, in practice, its not. Its a non-negotiable requirement of any union contract in any state without a RTW law. The business owner doesn’t say “I’ll give you a closed shop if you take less pay.” He says “You’ll get a closed shop AND higher pay, because my only other option is for you to strike until I am bankrupt.”

        1. Then the problem is Section 8(a)(5) of the NLRA (“refusal to bargain”), because it takes away the employer’s option of telling the union to screw off and going directly to employees.

          Union: “We want a closed shop.”

          Employer: “And what will you give up in exchange?”

          Union: “Nothing at all… we demand a closed shop and will not compromise”.

          Employer: “Hmmm… let me think about that. No.”

          Union: “Then we’re going on strike, starting tonight.”

          Employer: “Go right ahead… I’ll be accepting applications for those jobs starting tomorrow.”

    3. Yeah, if an employer wants a closed shop, he can just choose not to hire anyone who isn’t in the union.

      1. But what if they leave the union after being hired?

        Can he fire them, even in an at-will state, or does that violate the RTW law?

        1. Pretty sure he could still fire them.

  8. “undersairable”


    stupid keyboard.

  9. Right to work outlaws the “closed shop”, leaving fewer potential possibilities for agreement.


    I guess it just doesn’t count if it doesn’t happen under duress.

    1. Then remove the duress… don’t outlaw the closed shop.

      Repeal NLRA Section 8(a)(5).

  10. if an employer wants a closed shop, he can just choose not to hire anyone who isn’t in the union.

    And again- in the eyes of this mythological beast, why would union membership even matter?

    He is perfectly free to operate AS IF it is a closed shop, completely subservient to the whim and wish of the intellectual heirs of Jimmy Hoffa. Or does it just not count if the employees aren’t paid-up members of a Thug Brotherhood? If the object of the “union” is to gain optimal working conditions, what need is there for membership when those conditions have been handed to you on a silver platter? Is it just the depraved refusal to subsidize a team of “negotiators” in handmade suits funded by skimming the paychecks of their clients?

  11. From the article:

    (Even 40 percent of union households supported the law as did 63 percent of young voters.)

    Not surprising, as union households stand to financially profit from RTW more than anyone else.

    1. Not if they want to remain union, they don’t.

  12. a) I’ve worked for a small business owner who saw the benefits of having the machinist union that had organized the shop. He saw a benefit in having collective bargaining rather than individual bargaining because it saved him time, regularized his cash flow, and – best of all in his opinion – he could get by paying the really talented machinists less than if he had to bargain with them individually. I don’t know whether he was right about that, but it
    was certainly his opinion.

    b) coming back from lunch, I heard a talk radio discussion where a union caller was complaining about “free riders” getting collective bargaining without paying their dues. I almost ran off the road shouting, “then make collective bargaining a condition of paying dues. If they don’t, then they have to bargain individually.”

    1. I can think of another example where a closed shop would be beneficial.

      A business with a very variable business, needs skilled machinists/etc to work on long but limited projects. Negotiate a deal with the union, when you have a new project, you call them up, tell them how many workers you need for how long and they send available guys out.

      Obviously the union would prefer permanent employees, but if the option is open shop that hires as it sees fit vs closed shop that hires union member at union rates, I can see this as a win-win for the union and the business owner.

      1. I agree with you basic point that this is a shitty law being used to fight another shitty law:


        Just don’t call it a Union. Call it a Employment Agency. I don’t think any practical aspect of your business owners options are actually affected by RTW laws. Whereas without RTW laws, the business owner really does have fewer options. So the existing shitty law has real freedom-inhibiting consequences. And the freedom-inhibiting consequences of the (hypothetically shitty) RTW laws amount to exactly zero.

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