Right to Work

When Right-To-Work Is Wrong and Un-Libertarian


National Writers Union

I've been a union member — of the United Auto Workers, in fact, via the National Writers Union's odd connection with that organization — so I don't share the seemingly automatic bias against organized labor held by many "free-market" types who stray into pro-business territory, which ain't the same thing. In fact, I lost a consulting gig with one group for, basically, voicing the sentiments in the last sentence. I also consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association. So I'm not cheerleading for the right-to-work law just passed in Michigan, which bans closed shops in which union membership is a condition of employment. I'm disappointed that the state has, once again, inserted itself into the marketplace to place its thumb on the scale in the never-ending game of playing business and labor off against one another. (For discussion of how that thumb is already on the scale, please see, "Sure the Market Isn't Free, So Why Make It Even Less Free With Right-To-Work Laws?")

In an article for The Freeman after Indiana approved similar legislation, Gary Chartier stated the case well:

If employers choose to conclude union-shop contracts with unions, what gives the Indiana legislature the right to interfere?

Employers own the wages they will pay and the sites where work will be performed under such contracts. So it's their right to dispense the wages and make the sites available specifically to union members, just as it's their right, more generally, to trade with anyone they choose.

When a legislature interferes with voluntary employment contracts, it infringes people's freedom to bargain with their own labor and possessions. Treating this kind of interference as acceptable means licensing arbitrary interventions into the market by politicians, who are ill-equipped to second-guess the decisions made by the real people making work agreements with one another.

Chartier went on to defend not only the right of businesses and unions to negotiate the terms of employment in a workplace, but also the (sometimes) value of unions. I agree with him when he writes:

Supporting a free society means embracing people's freedom to form unions. And it means acknowledging that unions—and union-shop agreements—can offer both workers and employers something valuable.

Unions can help to secure workers predictable terms of employment and protect them against arbitrary dismissal. And a union contract can help make workplaces more predictable for employers, ensure that information is disseminated to workers, and reduce a variety of workplace transaction costs.

This is not to say that unions are always good. It means that, when the state isn't involved, they're private organizations that can offer value to their members. In fact, I found the NWU (and UAW) helpful for a while, primarily through the benefits the union offered and through the NWU's advocacy on the issue of electronic rights for written material at a time when the Web was first creating a host of new opportunities for writers and publishers alike. Eventually, the value of the benefits petered out for me, and then-union chief Jonathan Tasini's habit of veering into Albert Shanker-ish territory finally put me off enough to quit. But I can imagine re-joining a union under the right circumstances. I can also imagine resenting being forced into a union if I found out that it was a condition of employment in a desired job — but I also chafe against drug tests, sensitivity training, and some of the other conditions I've encountered over the years.

The ideal role for the government in business-labor relations is to stay the hell out of it and let the parties work things out themselves. I may prefer one outcome or another, but I don't have the right to enforce it by law, and that's what right-to-work legislation does.

Our own Brian Doherty wrote about libertarians' sometimes problematic relationship with unions last year.

Addendum: Some commenters point out that Michigan had earlier legislated in favor of unions. The economist Percy Greaves addressed this issue, writing, "the agitators for 'right-to-work' laws forget . . . that the problem is basically one of getting the government out of moral business transactions and not into them . . . . The economic answer is to repeal the bad intervention and not try to counterbalance it with another bad intervention."

NEXT: Quebec Filmmaker Faces Criminal Charges for "Corrupting Morals" With Serial Killer Art

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I want to work. I don’t ever want to join a union.

  2. I also consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association.

    They violate a “freedom” that no one wants to exercise.

    This is actually a good issue, because it distinguishes the debate-club doctrinaire libertarians from the real-world realist libertarians.

    1. There is no difference. Morality is morality.

      1. rob, you probably think A is A or some crazy shit like that too, don’t you?

        1. Well, he thinks android is linux despite being given a minix example that proved he was wrong, so what he thinks isn’t worth much.

          And honestly nicole, you’re pretty fucking stupid yourself.

        2. He thinks that Android is Linux and that Microsoft’s headquarters is in Seattle. Crazy talk.

      2. Morality is irrelevant.

        1. No, no it isnt. It is all that matters.


    2. Help me out, JD.

      The business is coerced into its contract with, and association with, the union, under our current labor laws.

      What freedom of contract and association is there to violate with a RTW law in that context?

      Sure, in theory, the real solution is to repeal the labor laws that coerce businesses into dealing with unions. Short of that, though, is the level of state intervention in these relationships meaningfully increased by RTW laws? I don’t think it is.

      1. Check the addendum above … “Balancing” pro-labor laws with pro-business laws doesn’t add balance at all — it just further involves the state. If we want a free market, we should go for a free market — not corporatist legislation.

        1. Classic doctrinaire libertarianism. All that matters is the level of government involvement.

          If a bill were up for a vote which legalized heroin and rape, presumably Tucille would favor it because it reduces government involvement in the drug market.

          1. As a doctrinaire individual-rights libertarian, rape would be a poison pill in any bill no matter how many fun drugs it legalized. What a shitty example, asshole.

            1. Tulpa will never recover from the R+R presidential loss. He is completely fucking insane. Oh goodness we need to save this page for Randjob and Epi.

        2. You’re conflating levels of the state. Michigan can’t overturn the Wagner Act all by its lonesome. So you get RTW laws as a compromise. Get the feds out of the way, and we’ll see how those laboratories of democracy work out.

        3. Why isn’t this a “pro-employee law”, since the third party in this relationship, the employee, definitely has their freedom of contract and freedom of association enhanced by RTW laws. They are still free to join the union, but they are now also free not to join the union.

          Why doe the libertarians who oppose these laws never seem to acknowledge that increase in freedom?

          Saying that we should never try to balance a pro-labor law with a pro-business law sure sounds to me like its based on the assumption that there is no point in making incremental changes. If there was any likelihood whatsoever of the current labor laws being repealed and a free market in labor established, I might be more sympathetic.

          As it is, though, it sounds like you would be opposed to pot legalization unless and until the current laws on alcohol sale and consumption are repealed and we have a free market in intoxicants across the board.

          1. Thank you, RC, for pointing out Tucille’s silly “purity test” argument.

            Yes, we know what “pure libertarianism” is and I’m as much in favor of eliminating two counterpoised “systems” as anyone. But you have to do the best you can in the environment you have – if you can’t eliminate one bad law then you have to counterbalance it. One can delusionally hope logical heads prevail in the future and eliminate BOTH laws, but hoping one terrible law can be repealed on its own is delusional to the point of stupidity.

            Tucille also seems to miss the real motivation behind this legislation – to get government out of the business of doing the union’s work. That is liberty for the taxpayer – a small liberty but one that should not be discounted.

        4. I think, even though JD is on to something, he, like everyone else forgets that companies already do this (deal with a labor org in order to be supplied labor)…

          It’s called corporate recruiters.

          Cardinal Health, headquartered in my hometown of Dublin, OH exclusively hires new people into the company through corporate recruiters.

          That means that you interview with the recruiter first, who then decides whether or not you are a good choice to even be given access to Cardinal Health HR dept.

          Unions are not really even needed to supply labor (as a trusted source) to management.

          That’s why, as ‘Barry D’ below has mensioned, that no businesses are going to sue in MI to overturn RTW law.

      2. R C, haven’t you read about all the businesses suing to overturn RTW laws, on First Amendment grounds?

        You haven’t?

        Me neither.

      3. Aren’t you the one who refuses to be pro-marriage equality because it increases the role of the state?

      4. The thing is, if you can make a libertarian argument in favor anti-discrimination laws, you should be able to apply the same logic to RTW.

        Yes, the doctrinaire libertarian position would be against RTW laws, but plenty of libertarians have made the case that it’s permissible to support anti-discrimination laws because it increases liberty for racial minorities in the context of past government institutionalized racism.

        I don’t see why the same logic shouldn’t apply here. Right to work laws objectively increase liberty for workers.

        This isn’t like subsidizing one thing to counter balance a subsidy for something else. No liberty interest is at stake in that. In this case, we’ve got an artifical situation that allows unions to contrain the liberty of actual people. Immediately increasing the liberty of non-union workers ought to have some weight when compared to waiting for the NLRA to be repealed.

        1. The problem is many of the people who consistently argue against antidiscrimination laws are arguing for RTW.

          There is a consistency here, it’s just not a libertarian one.

    3. How do you distinguish the libertarians from the state-fellating, Romney-voting posers like Tulpa?

    4. You mean the libertarians from the Republicans who think they’re too cool to call themselves Republicans?

      1. Or maybe the state-worshiping Democrats who don’t have the intellectual honesty to join the CPUSA?

  3. Closed-shop is something completely different than what the unions are fighting for in Michigan. Closed shops are agreed-to by the employer and the union they are free to negotiate with. The way the law in Michigan was written until recently did not address this issue, but allowed unions to automatically collect dues, free from the CBA they had agreed to with the employer they contracted with.

    The difference here is huge.

    1. Can you expand on that a little bit? I’m confused what that means.

      1. I always understood a “closed shop” to be agreed-upon in a CBA with the union and employer. What is happening in Michigan is that employees are required to join a union if one exists and that requirement has not necessarily been agreed-to by the employer or made a part of their CBA. Essentially, the current law allows unions to compel membership or at least the dues-paying even though the employer may not desire that and has not necessarily agreed to it contractually.

        Again, the unions hold a gun to prospective employees heads in a way not agreed-to by the employer in the CBA. There’s no freedom in that.

        1. Now THAT is a good point. So does this RTW work out to improve freedom by rectifying that or is there more bad than good?

          See Tulpa this is how you make a point.

          1. I LOOM LARGE

            1. Eat less and work out more. Eventually, you’ll only loom medium.

    2. I keep reading conflicting information about that one, so I’ve found it hard to reach a conclusion. If this was the case in Michigan, than I don’t see anything wrong with the law.

      And from a more practical standpoint, it’s not like things could possibly get worse in Michigan, right?

      1. I just don’t like compulsory union membership unless it’s been agreed-to by both parties (union and management) in the CBA. And that’s been the case in Michigan with the current law.

        1. Nail finally hit on head…

          Buckeyes against a cupcake tonight, taking on Kansas day of ‘reckoning’

          My thoughts…put in LaQuinton but he must play defense.

          1. O-H…!
            And on topic, I think Writer’s Guild idiocy combined with Newhouse idiocy is what is about to kill the Cleveland Plain Dealer — though my friends at the PD would never admit any union culpability.
            Thankfully, I work at a non-union paper. (And, as it happens, while the PD is cutting a third of its staff and will probably end daily publication, we got year-end bonuses. I think it’s time we open a Cleveland bureau.)

    3. As I understand it, the National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act (1935) required any employer (with employees greater than a certain number) to bargain with any union that managed to sign up as members and get to vote yea in a certification election* and upon certification and the settlement of a collective bargaining agreement collect union dues and check-offs** from all employees.

      In 1947, the Republican congress responding to perceptions of a pro-union bias in Wagner (a perception I tend to agree was correct) passed the Taft?Hartley Act which while not overuling completely the closed shop provision of Wagner, allowed the states to pass “Right to Work” laws which generally allow the states to overrule the closed-shop provisions of Wagner.

      I don’t know whether any RTW laws allow companies and unions to negotiate CBAs which include closed shop provisions but I don’t know of any that do.

      *which under the terms of Wagner was supposed to be secret but which has been subject to a campaign by what is left of organized labor to make non-secret recently.

      **Dues are moneys reserved for the expenses of union activity; ie paying executive officers and negotiators, maintaining strike and benefit funds etc. Checkoffs are monies for political activity to promote pro-union legislation.

  4. from yesterday’s wrangling

    I think that there are two issues being discussed and people are talking past each other on them:

    1) In Libertopia, a union and employer could enter into an agreement making the business a closed shop. Under such a scenario, RTW would be an intervention that violated the freedom of association. However, it’s not clear to me how you can force someone to hire people in Libertopia + RTW laws.

    2) In the legal regime we struggle under, the employer really has no choice to decline the unionization of his business. Once enough employees vote to join the union, he is fucked for all time; going forward he must purchase his labor from the union. And the union gets a broker’s fee for every laborer is “supplies”.

    In such a regime RTW makes the employer less fucked. The union sets the prices he must pay for labor services, but he is allowed to purchase his services at those prices from anyone, and only people who want to have to kick the broker’s fee to the union.

    In my mind, given that the government violates freedom of association by compelling a business owner to do business with a union, RTW lessens the violation of this important freedom by clawing back the right of the employer to hire people he wants rather than the people the union wants.

    In a RTW world, I believe an employer could still choose to only hire guys who pay dues if it was that important to him.

    1. Once enough employees vote to join the union, he is fucked for all time; going forward he must purchase his labor from the union.

      This is untrue. The employer can simply not agree to the union’s terms and hire others. The union cannot force any employer to take their terms. The union can make the opportunity cost very high (through mostly illegitimate means IMO) but the employer can always, always reject the union and hire elsewhere.

      1. Not exactly, califernian. Look at the recent cases where the DOL has interjected itself into labor disputes and forced the employers back to the table or to an arbitrator when they no longer wanted to negotiate with the union and chose to start with new non-union labor.

      2. Dude, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Still.

        Refusing to negotiate with the current employees’ representative is an unfair labor practice under NLRA and will cause the feds to go STEVE SMITH on the employer.

        1. I understand there is a grey area where the DOL or NLRB can determine the employer negotiated in bad faith, and in fact even forcing them to negotiate at all is a violation of liberty,and the costs of dragging out the negoation are an unfairly obtained bargaining chip the unions have.

          But no, the company does not have to go union.

          1. Would Boeing qualify? They wanted to open a non-union plant in South Carolin and the DoL told them they couldn’t. As far as I’m concerned, that’s being forced to hire a union since they ware allowed to build the plant in Washington where they’re required to use union labor.

          2. Yes, they do. Once the employees certify, if the company does not negotiate in good faith (which means they CANNOT say they don’t want an agreement with the union) they get pimp-slapped by NLRB.

            The choice is go union or go out of business.

          3. But no, the company does not have to go union.

            This is true; they can just close their doors.

            But the option of continuing to do business as if the union wasn’t there doesn’t exist. Refusing to deal with a union after it has been certified is its own death sentence for a company.

        2. Califernian wasn’t referring to a refusal to negotiate, but negotiating in good faith and then failing to come to terms.

          1. I’ll refer back to my Boeing comment above. They wanted to open a new plant in South Carolina, which their CBA did not keep them from doing, and the DoL told them they could not do so when the union complained.

            They negotiated their contract in good faith. They decided to build a plant elsewhere, in accordance with the contract, but when the union griped, the DoL forced Boeing to build the plant in a state where employees would be compelled to join the existing union. If that’s not “being forced,” I don’t know what is.

            1. How dare you offer any real-world examples to muddy the nice clean libertarian theory?

              1. It’s not very muddy if you remember that libertarians don’t support the NLRB or the Wagner Act, which are the only things that made any of the Boeing bullshit possible. That was a complete travesty. Do RTW laws make the surface situation better? Yes. But they’re not a solution to the real problem.

                1. Psh! You’re absolutely wrong, nicole: the NLRB and the Wagner Act are the same thing. Take that, you freedom-lover.

                  1. The NLRA and the Wagner Act are the same thing.

                    The NLRA and the NLRB are not.

                    1. Damn you and your corrections. This is all nicole’s fault.

          2. A prerequisite of good-faith negotiation in this context is the desire to come to an agreement. Which means a sincere attempt to accept the union. If the employer engineers an impasse, that is ipso facto not good faith negotiation.

            So to claim that the company doesn’t have to go union is very false.

            1. It also presumes that there is no duress.

              I want $5000 for this car.

              I’ll give you $4000.

              I’ll take $4500.


              That’s negotiation.

              I want $5000 for this car.

              This .40 cal says you’ll give it to me for free.

              That’s not.

      3. Mandatory bargaining is a very real problem that forces some to view right to work as a valid solution. If companies were never forced to negotiate with unions, most of the ones that unionized never would have unionized. So fuck unions, the NLRA, the NLRB, the DOL, the FTC, the SEC, and all that un-free-markety-shit.

        1. I rest my case. Its the “The UNIONZ!!1!!”

          1. If it walks like a duck…quacks like a duck…

            1. Penal-tax?

              1. A tax on Viagra in the Obamacare bill

          2. No, you completely refuse to discuss that the market is already “fixed” in a very heavy way by mandatory bargaining. Have you heard of the Boeing “unfair labor practices”, or the FedEx versus Teamsters issue?

            1. I brought up the Boeing case twice upthread and for some reason none of these guys wants to touch it. I’m not surprised.

              1. Hypotheticals are fun. Math is hard. Reality is harder.

              2. It’s not that we’re scared of you, sloopy. It’s just that fatherhood has made you intimidating. It’s totally different.

          3. Well, it IS the unions (at least the big, powerful ones and their associates) who got this done. In an NLRB-free world, I probably wouldn’t have a problem with unions. It’s the current coercion-loving status quo that I hate.

      4. While that’s true, in practice it’d be like closing the business and opening a new one. Once the “work unit” is defined, it can only be dismissed en bloc. And even if your business is small enough that the employees there don’t comprise nearly all the local workers in that field who are qualified, they may be part of a union that encompasses all the other businesses nearby in the same field.

      5. Will you please read the freaking Wagner Act already?

        The NLRB has the authority to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices, which are defined in Section 8 of the Act. In broad terms, the NLRB makes it unlawful for an employer to:
        -interfere with two or more employees acting in concert to protect rights provided for in the Act, whether or not a union exists
        -to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of a labor organization
        -to discriminate against employees for engaging in concerted or union activities or refraining from them
        -to discriminate against an employee for filing charges with the NLRB or taking part in any NLRB proceedings
        -to refuse to bargain with the union that is the lawful representative of its employees

        1. All of these are invalid use of government force and unfairly increase the bargaining position of unions.

          None of them force a company to go union.

          Abolish the Wagner act, the NLRB and the rest but don’t let yourself succumb to sweet appeal of using government force on a party you despise just because it feels good.

          1. Without all of those things “persuading” (in the mob sense) companies to deal with unions, very few would have ever unionized. Unions don’t have the voluntary workforce association that you think they do- most fields have plenty of people content to take the place of a union worker.

          2. So if I lock you in the basement of my house with no light, food, or water until you give me $100, the transaction is not “forced” because I didn’t technically hold you down and take the money from your pocket.

          3. None of them force a company to go union.

            Yes, they do. Once a union is certified, the employer has to negotiate, and has to rely on the judgment of government bureaucrats on whether or not the union is negotiating in good faith and on whether or not impasse has been reached.

            You may as well argue that “shall issue” states don’t infringe on a person’s right to bear arms because people can still get permits if the police chief agrees.

            1. You mean “may issue”, right?

              1. Oops, yeah.

                1. You’re both wrong, they’re called “maybe issue, maybe not” laws.

            2. Jordan

              In my experience, if the question before the NLRB is “is the company bargaining in good faith”, the answer will be “NO”, if the question before the NLRB is “is the UNION bargaining in good faith”, the answer will be “YES”.

      6. califernian

        If a majority of employees vote “yes” in a certification election under the Wagner Act, the employer is forced to begin collective bargaining negotiations with the union and if he fails to do so he can be sanctioned for “failure to bargain in good faith”.

        The only thing being in a RTW state changes is that at the conclusion of the negotiations he cannot force the remaining N(number of employees)-NsubU(number of employees who voted for the union) to join the union or pay union dues.

    2. Agreed.

      The government already imposed itself in the situation by granting union officials a monopoly on the power to collectively bargain.

      Michigan does not exist in Libertopia, where a business owner could theoretically require all employees to be members of the NRA, or the Sierra Club, or the John Birch Society.

      Michigan exists in a world in which the government forces business owners to negotiate with union bosses. A world in which the National Labor Relations Board is the sole legal entity that can certify or decertify a union. In that world, Right to Work is a very modest reform that protects the individual (not the business, as so many reports have claimed).

  5. It means that, when the state isn’t involved, they’re private organizations that can offer value to their members.


    Well since unions exist primarily to send union dues to politicians in the form of campaign donations, and then to get paid back in the form of union-friendly regulation of the workplace, I’d say the state’s going to be involved no matter what.

  6. “…Paging Messrs. Tulpy-Poo, heller, RC Dean and other interested parties…please pick up the (union produced) courtesy phone and report to this thread…”

    (Grabs popcorn. Looks for the Union Label(tm)


      Because I know that’s making up a lot more of your diet now than it ever used to.

      Unless you were a fag when you lived here, in which case your cabbage consumption is probably about the same.

      1. KAPUSTA!!! SHHI!!!

        Also, what does smoking have to with my daily intake of roughage, Jimbo? Hmmm…?


        1. Seriously I hate cabbage, and was sorely pressed in Russia, because they LOVES them some cabbage. Blech.

          1. Yes, yes they do. I still can’t enough borshh. I seriously loves that stuff.

            Protip kids: Avoid foreign Mackey D’s.

            1. Unless it’s Japanese McD’s. They have “America burgers” there that are awesome.

          2. How do you eat a Reuben if it’s just dry-ass corned beef and rye bread?

            1. Corned beef reuben? Doing it wrong.

      2. Also, BRUCE McCULLOUGH!

        “You just hate me because I HAVE A CABBAGE FOR A HEAD!”

    2. I refuse to dance and gyrate my very nice ass for your amusement.

  7. I’m not even sure what the problem is with public sector unions. The problem is not that there are unions, the problem is that undefined compensation is on the table.

    If the politicians are simply not allowed to negotiate undefined compensation – or are required to only pay what is in the bank, then there’s no problem.

    1. The problem with pubsec unions is there is no profit motive to set caps on agreements.

      If a private employer overcompensates his employees, he goes bankrupt. With rare exceptions, governments dont.

      1. If a private sector employer is big enough, and the union donates enough to the right politicians, it won’t go bankrupt either.

        Well, I guess GM did ostensibly go bankrupt, but it didn’t have to follow those pesky laws that bankruptcy normally entails, and somehow going bankrupt entitled the company to tens of billions of our tax dollars.

        1. I guess my point is that, if it really worked that way, I would say, “let ’em all rot in hell together” and not care. But it doesn’t really work that way.

      2. no, but if an elected official negotiates too sweet a deal to the employees, they’re out in the next election cycle. If the deal was financed through debt and sealed as an obligation “by contract”, then the damage continues PAST the tenure of the elected official, and so there is no real accountability. If the moneys were set aside in an existing, funded account, then the damage is contained.

        1. no, but if an elected official negotiates too sweet a deal to the employees, they’re out in the next election cycle.

          LOL. Kind of hard to reconcile that with ridiculously high incumbent victory rates and lots of horrible public sector CBAs.

          Plus it’s not usually elected officials doing the negotiating, it’s the bureaucrats.

  8. Curious, do you also oppose murder laws because there’s no exception for people who want someone to kill them? Doesn’t that violate freedom of association?

    1. Even that isn’t quite a good analogue to RTW legislation, which does not prevent anyone from joining a union. It just makes “free association” something voluntary, not something coerced.

      And yes, “If you want a job in this state, you have to pay tribute to unions, who will use the money in ways that violate your moral principles” is coercion. Can you leave the state? Sure. But if there aren’t any RTW states, you won’t have anywhere to go.

      1. I think the “coercion” that RTW is said to create is coercion of an employer who would just love to be hitched forevermore to a union that could forcibly extract dues from his employees, if only the big bad statists wouldn’t interfere.

        1. LOL

          That’s dead on.

          Interestingly, no employer I am aware of has ever campaigned against proposed RTW legislation because it violates the employers right to free association. Do you know of one?

    2. Euthanasia is basically legal through non-enforcement.

      As a moderate libertarian, I’d say a good rule of thumb for (reasonable) state licensure is, “will someone be laying their hands upon you”

      So, doctors, nurses, massage therapists (but not interior decorators or coffin makers)… Killing someone is definitely “laying hands” on someone, so state licensure for euthanasia is pretty reasonable.

      1. I would also add lawyers or people with legal-type specialties (surveyors and kinds of financial professionals). Attorney-like powers can really fuck up public health and safety if administered incompetently.

        1. well, lawyers work directly through the state.

          I would say “being a steward of someone else’s property” (i.e. a bank) should be regulated, but only to prevent fraud.

          Fraud should be legal (but immoral) if there is no property exchange. (i.e. if I tell you your girlfriend is cheating on you).

  9. Contracts agreed to under duress, that violate the free association of individuals by placing them under similar duress, and violate the more fundamental principle of individual self-ownership, are hardly something that libertarians ought to consider sacrosanct.

    A law against extortion is not anti-free-market, particularly when it protects the individual from extortion by a business and a union colluding to deny them the right to compete as an individual for a job without paying a tribute to the union.

    A law against slavery isn’t anti-free-market, either, for the same reasons.

    This is an example of where libertarians who don’t think very deeply about things go off the rails. Individual liberty is a prerequisite for the free market. Otherwise, it’s not free. Furthermore, if not to protect individual liberty, what is the legitimate role of government?

    1. Reading the other comments here, apparently people should be free to sell themselves into slavery.

      1. In order to be consistent with those comments, the libertarian position is that people should be free to sell other people into slavery as well.

  10. “NWU’s advocacy on the issue of electronic rights for written material at a time”

    So, advocacy of a state-sponsored monopoly (copyright)?

    1. Nope — the NWU was negotiating directly with publishers over whether they had automatically purchased the rights to publish material in new media, or whether that should be negotiated separately. Not to say that Tasini wasn’t also a commie — he was.

    2. 120 year corporate copyrights, that don’t even require the owner to include a copyright notice…

      Author’s death plus 70 years — that creates what is nearly a hereditary aristocracy. Sure, an author should be able to provide for his/her children should the author die, just as any other person, but we’re talking about several generations here.

      That goes far beyond what the Constitution intended. It’s difficult to justify.

  11. This is the correct position on this issue. As much as I want to stick it to unions and economically-ignorant pro-union zealots, I don’t want the government to do the sticking.

    Right-to-Work superficially seems like a welcome change from traditional collective bargaining rules, but it swings the pendulum too far – just like collective bargaining, it is also a violation of freedom of association. If a business owner wants to make union membership a condition of employment, that is his/her prerogative.

    I’m genuinely curious to know what is going on in the minds of people who don’t think that this is the obvious conclusion.

    1. There’s no evidence that any employer would ever want to exercise the “freedom” that Tucille, heller, and the bunch are so valiantly defending.

      1. that’s nonsense. There are plenty of corporations that insist on being union. Green Dot Charter Schools, for example (although it’s hilarious, lefties knee-jerk say it’s not a union shop – the trick is Green Dot went with the union that COMPETES with the utterly corrupt UTLA).

        1. RTW doesn’t forbid employers from bargaining with unions.

          The “freedom” in question here is the freedom to require that all employees contribute dues to the union.

      2. You people are hilarious. You are like the libertarian equivalent of TEAM RED/BLUE.

        “THE UNIONZZZ!!1”

        Just because every employer would prefer not to have a union to deal with DOES NOT mean they were forced to accept the union deals. not only are you wrong that there is no evidence employers will sometimes chooose to accept union terms, EVERY SINGLE FUCKING INSTANCE Of a union contract is just that.

        Please point to me one single case of a union contract that was put into place using force against the express will the company.

        Just because they are facing tough choices and big opportunity costs, that is not force. The union has cards to play the so does the company. In the end, the company decides to accept the union terms rather than suffer an interruption of production. It’s not that hard to understand.

        Of COURSE an employer would rather not deal with a union and OF COURSE unions use thuggery and intimidation and underhanded salting campaigns.

        But in the end the employer can reject the deal. Just because the unions sometimes get the upper hand in negotiations and you don’t like them doesn’t mean that somehow it’s now ok to use government force to stop the deal.

        Your position is similar to those who support minimum wage laws and the like. “That looks like a crappy deal I think it should be illegal”.

        1. Just because they are facing tough choices and big opportunity costs, that is not force.

          When avoiding those “choices” and “costs” is against the law, yes, that is force. You continue to repeat falsehoods about how the employer can just go hire new workers if it doesn’t like the union’s deal, which makes me question your intellectual honesty.

          1. ^^THIS^^

            Hostess didn’t have the option of firing it’s US unionized workforce and then hiring new workers.

        2. Who gives a shit?

          Explain how a union and a company have the right to bargain away someone else’s right to free association — someone who hasn’t been born, not just current union members.

          The UAW has controlled employment in Michigan manufacturing since before the people now working in the plants were born. They never had a say in this, that you are calling “free association.”

          1. Free association presumes that, before all else, individuals have rights. Unions are merely associations of individuals, and have no inherent rights beyond that.

            They have no natural right to violate the rights of other individuals, any more than a mob has the right to lynch someone, just because the members of the mob think it’s a good idea.

          2. The problem is the laws that force companies to deal with unions. Get rid of those laws.

            1. States can’t. They can, however, pass RTW laws that have the same effect.

        3. But in the end the employer can reject the deal.

          And go out of business.

          They are not allowed to fire them all and hire new workers.

          Even if they go out of business, they better STAY out of business because if they try to open a different business within a year or so of closing the last one the NLRB will fuck them sideways.

        4. Also, you’re fabricating a premise.

          Please point to me one single case where the family of a kidnapping victim has paid a ransom against the express will of the family.

          There aren’t any. They want their family member back alive, so they pay.

          The key is, they paid UNDER DURESS.

          This is how contract law works. If you sign a contract because someone puts a gun to your head, and you would rather sign the contract than die, that contract is still not valid.

          Should it be? I mean, it was signed by someone whose express will was to avoid being killed, by signing it. Is that freedom of contract?!?

        5. But in the end the employer can reject the deal. Just because the unions sometimes get the upper hand in negotiations and you don’t like them doesn’t mean that somehow it’s now ok to use government force to stop the deal.

          Better still, the employer can pack up his shit and 1) move overseas, or 2) shut down the operation altogether, and there’s NOTHING a union can do to stop it.

          There’s a reason most union membership is ensconced in the public sector now–because their leaders often have direct access to those with their fingers on the purse. To nuke pubsec unions would basically require an end-of-Western-Rome-like degringolade of society.

        6. “Please point to me one single case of a union contract that was put into place using force against the express will the company.”

          While they have yet to succeed, Governor Dayton (DFL) of Minnesota and the SEIU are working very hard to force union membership onto home day-care providers, because in their twisted minds, if my neighbor across the street want to make money taking care of people’s kids IN HER OWN HOUSE, if she’s not in a union, those kids she’s caring for will suffer from abuse and neglect.

          1. Don’t confuse the issue with examples of what unions ACTUALLY DO!

        7. Of COURSE an employer would rather not deal with a union and OF COURSE unions use thuggery and intimidation and underhanded salting campaigns.

          This is what’s known as ‘coercion’.

          If you agree that no company WANTS a union, then how did we get unions? Coercion from unions and government.

          ‘Force’ and ‘coercion’ don’t always mean physical force–often they mean taking one’s money and time.

        8. “Please point to me one single case of a union contract that was put into place using force against the express will the company.”

          Boeing. As has been mentioned several times, already.

        9. Though in reality most union employees don’t work for companies, they work for government agencies. There is nothing unlibertarian about having right work laws for government employees, that is, for not requiring people to join a union and pay it dues as a prerequisite for getting a government job.

      3. Bullshit Tulpa, there are all kinds of niche websites offering “proudly union!” products. It’s a badge of working-class solidarity for some people.

        Just because you can’t imagine it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

        I’m not defending the argument here, as I tend to favor RTW laws, but whether or not they are good/libertarian/whatever shouldn’t hinge on how you believe a business should be run.

        1. Seriously dude?


          I would use the blink tag if it was available.

          1. It prevents companies from bargaining in mandated union membership.

            1. I.e. it won’t allow them to bargain away the right of future employees to free association.

              This law protects a fundamental right. It doesn’t violate one.

              1. No future employee loses right to free association.

                They can join the union or not. No one can be forced in.

                They may or may not get a job because of it, but their right to association isnt violated at all.

                You have to think that there is some “right to a job” for your position to make sense.

                1. There is no right to a job.

                  There is a natural right to participate in the market as an individual.

                  1. There is a natural right to participate in the market as an individual.

                    And there is a natural right for an employer to set terms of employment.

                    Including closed shop.

                    1. “And there is a natural right for an employer to set terms of employment.

                      Including closed shop.”

                      So Naked Thursdays would be okay?

                    2. So Naked Thursdays would be okay?

                      I dont see a problem with it.

                2. You have to think that there is some “right to a job” for your position to make sense.

                  Yes, exactly.

            2. Why would they want to bargain for that?

              1. Because they’re under extreme duress… That’s where the freedom to contract argument disintegrates.

              2. Why would they want to bargain for that?

                Because they are fucking stupid?

                Not my place to say. People bargain for stupid shit all the time. Not my job to protect them from themselves.

              3. They wouldn’t want to bargain for that. But the union would. And it might appear in the employers interest to agree to it, even in a scenario where they can just fire everyone and start fresh. That’s how bargaining works. Neither party typically ends up with exactly what they want. Maybe no union would ever succeed in doing so. But they should be able to try without the force of government behind them.

                The problem is the NLRA.

    2. I’m genuinely curious to know what is going on in the minds of people who don’t think that this is the obvious conclusion.

      Read my earlier post:

      The law forcing employers to bargain with a union is a violation of the right of freedom of association. The employer has to purchase his labor from the union at the price the union demands.

      The effect of RTW is to restore the ability of the employer to hire those whom he wants (rather than limiting him to the people in the union) but retaining the strictures that force him to pay the prices the union demands.

      I don’t see how the law could enforced that prevents the employer from choosing only to hire dues paying members. Thus under an RTW regime closed shops would probably still be possible. It really depends on how vigorously the EEOC wants to make examples of businesses that don’t abide by it.

    3. How does the ability to contract away the basic rights of future third parties to freely associate, violate the freedom of association?

      Contracts that state the someone who isn’t born yet will have to pay tribute to a union if they want a chance to earn a living — and generally signed under duress — are not exactly examples of “free association”, any more than selling one’s children into slavery is an example of “freedom of contract.”

      There are some contracts that violate even more fundamental rights. Laws against selling stolen goods are not anti-free-market, either, at least to someone who isn’t completely insane.

      1. Oops…. I meant to type, “How does A BAN on the ability to contract away…”

      2. The same could be said regarding real estate convenants. In this case it’s a covenant that runs with the business rather than with the land.

        There are other areas in which gov’t grants a privilege to one party, and then grants others privileges in dealing with the privileged party. That’s true in the case of legal monopoly common carriers.

        1. The same could be said of a real estate covenant that requires the buyer to forfeit a percentage of his monthly income to the Roman Catholic Church or something.

          Whether this would be legal is an unresolved question, because it is so completely insane that nobody has tried it.

          “There are other areas in which gov’t grants a privilege to one party, and then grants others privileges in dealing with the privileged party.”

          Yes. Free-market supporters and libertarians OPPOSE this, by definition!

          Are you trying to justify burglary by saying that, in some cases, burglaries happen? In essence, you’re trying to do just that.

      3. Barry, the problem with this argument that you keep making is that nobody is forced to work for a particular company. No one is entitled to a specific job. I support RTW as an imperfect solution to other coercive labor laws, but in a free market, if (for whatever reason) an employer wants to make dues-paying membership in a union a condition of employment, he is totally free to do so. If a prospective employee doesn’t like it, they can apply to a different company

        1. This is true in theory, yes.

          However, in practice, the UAW has long owned manufacturing jobs in Michigan.

          So yeah, someone could, in theory, go back to school and become a physician, but…

          1. If you recognize that the anti-RTW argument is true in theory, then we have no disagreement. RTW is a shitty law, but previous laws were even shittier, no argument. A better solution would be to completely deregulate/decontrol labor/management contractual relationships.

            1. Not completely.

              Contract law regarding duress, etc., would still have to be enforced.

              Otherwise, completely.

              Short of complete deregulation (which has zero chance of actually happening), RTW does more to protect fundamental freedoms than the real alternative.

              And if you enforce contract law, it would sure seem that a contract signed because the union went on strike, threatened replacements, committed vandalism, or did anything else to damage the company, would not be valid.

              See, the power of unions to negotiate valid contracts by force is a special legal construct, a political handout to unions. Ordinary contracts so negotiated would be invalid.

              Can of worms. A fun one, really, but where it leads is not a place that pro-union “libertarians” would want to go.

              1. And if you enforce contract law, it would sure seem that a contract signed because the union went on strike, threatened replacements, committed vandalism, or did anything else to damage the company, would not be valid.

                Excepting actual physical damage to the company or it’s people, those WOULD be valid contracts. Me threatening to quit if my demands aren’t met is a valid move to make, and it’s a valid move for a union to make too. To argue otherwise, you would also need to agree that a contract agreed to by a worker wanting to keep his job wouldn’t be valid. In neither situation is there any coercion involved. “Duress” isn’t a valid substitute for coercion.

          2. Or they could move to Tennessee and build Toyotas.

            1. Only as long as there are RTW states like TN.

              That’s the point.

        2. “No one is entitled to a specific job.”

          The ADA disagrees with you. So does the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    4. So you are arguing that an employer and another corporation you want nothing to do with can negotiate away your freedom of association?

      Cool, I want to run a company where everyone has to be a card-carrying, dues paying NRA and Libertarian Party members.

      1. Cool, I want to run a company where everyone has to be a card-carrying, dues paying NRA and Libertarian Party members.

        Nothing is stopping you, at least in at-will states.

        With my previous company, there were times where every employee had a concealed carry permit. We didnt require it, but we could have.

      2. You can!

        Start your business and state that only people that are both LP and NRA members may apply!

        You’ll probably be out of business faster than a game company started by Curt Schilling, but there you are.

    5. just like collective bargaining, it is also a violation of freedom of association.

      At worst, it sacrifices the employer’s freedom of association in order to create that same freedom for the employees.

      Is there a net loss of freedom there? I’m having a hard time seeing it.

      1. On net, RTW includes more freedom than the laws that it repealed/replaced. However, there is an obvious alternative that includes even more freedom than either RTW or collective bargaining, which is the end of all regulation of labor contracts.

      2. The Employer is still free (and in some cases compelled) to negotiate with unions – subject to state and federal regulations.

        In other words, not really free either way.

    6. But what about the employer that doesn’t want to make union membership a condition of employment, but is effectively forced into doing so by NLRA? RTW provides a solution for that employer. It’s imperfect, but states can’t change federal law. All they can do is work within it.

  12. but I also chafe against drug tests, sensitivity training, and some of the other conditions I’ve encountered over the years.

    Tucille, does Dr. Tucille know about your…dermal condition?

    Are you aware of the wonders of talcum powder (or Gold Bond. SHILL!), cotton boxers, and the magic of properly fitting trousers?

    JD, you wear skinny jeans, don’t you?! Admit it.-D

    1. I do. [Hides face in shame]

  13. “Chartier went on to defend not only the right of businesses and unions to negotiate the terms of employment in a workplace…”

    Aren’t we forgetting somebody? The poor slobs getting their paychecks skimmed against their wills while senior management and union bosses slap each other on the back.

    What part of “Freedom of Association” doesn’t the author understand? (I too am a former dues paying (against my will) UAW member.)

    1. Exactly!

      RTW protects the freedom of individuals to associate.

      Not all contracts should be allowed under the law. Bargaining away the rights of third parties are such contracts.

      Extreme example: I pay an auctioneer $25,000 for a slave. We sign a contract. He and I agree that yes, I now own myself a slave.

      Is that contract legal? Not just no, but FUCK NO! Should it be? Please tell me you don’t think so.

      1. Accepting a job is not like being a slave.

        Closed shop dont bargain away any 3rd party rights. Jobs arent a right, go work at some open shop if you dont want to join the union.

        1. Tell me about a Michigan open-shop auto manufacturer.

          1. Michigan?

            They have walls preventing the people from moving?

            And if they really want to stay, they can start their own.

          2. Tell me about a buggy whip manufacturer.

            1. So now people have to chose their profession and / or state of residence based on willingness to join a union? Give it up, you are stretching too far. Just let people choose.

              1. Drake, again, don’t confuse the discussion with a dose of reality!

          3. I don’t think you have a right to a job in a particular industry either.

      2. As others have pointed out, there is no actual third party to be identified in this case. If you don’t like the terms your prospective boss is offering, look elsewhere. If 100% of all bosses everywhere choose to offer the same terms that you find disagreeable, then still, fuck you, start your own business or deal with it. The government does not need to decide what contractual terms are permissible or not.

        1. True.

          See above, though. A contract signed under duress is not valid. So without government carve-outs for unions, going on strike would be self-defeating.

          In that case, unions would be very different entities from what they currently are. That changes the discussion considerably, but it’s also alt-history.

          1. See above to you as well. Duress isn’t the same as coercion, and isn’t a valid substitute for it. Feeling under pressure doesn’t mean you can force someone to accept your terms of employment.

            If I want to quit unless the company agrees to what I want, I should be able to. If a company agrees to my terms because I’ll quit otherwise, the contract should still valid.

            Conversely, if I want to cease employing someone, I should also be able to. If that employee agrees to my terms because he wants me to keep employing him, that contract should be valid as well.

  14. so I don’t share the seemingly automatic bias against organized labor held by many “free-market” types who stray into pro-business territory

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m not biased against organized labor unless it is in the public sector.

    If employees want to force their employer to raise prices to the point where no one wants to buy their goods and services, that’s their problem. I just won’t buy their stuff. If their employer goes belly-up, that’s not my problem.

    In the case of public sector organized labor, government doesn’t declare bankruptcy and go out of business. Its customers, the taxpayers, don’t have a choice but to pay.

    1. Tucille is the new Weigel. Anyone who denies that this place is tilting left-libertarian is not paying attention.

      1. I think left-libertarians have reservations about the private ownership in perpetuity of things like a million acres in Texas or oil rights in North Dakota. I don’t think they are excited about anyone owning people.

        I.e., tilting left, yes, but I’m seeing less libertarian than left.

        1. I think left-libertarians have reservations about the private ownership in perpetuity of things like a million acres in Texas or oil rights in North Dakota.

          No they don’t. Left Libertarians love that shit, as long as it is the right people, i.e. the Nature Conservancy, who are doing the perpetual ownership.

          1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism

            Not a left-lib myself, but what you write is contrary to what they believe.

      2. Maybe you’re tilting right-libertarian. Whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean.

        I think your first criticism was far more valid. That a lot of us are more interested in the morally proper answer than the outcome. Saying “this place is going down the tubes because they don’t agree with Tulpa” is just silly. Perhaps Tucille just cares about principles, whether they support what you might identify as left/right or whatever.

    2. Also, its a bit disingenuous to write the whole article as if the NLRB doesn’t exist and hasn’t prevented employers from exercising their freedoms. Even companies that are committed to working with their employee unions. RTW didn’t come about in a vacuum.

  15. While I agree that right-to-work, looked in isolation, is un-libertarian as a matter of free association in the private sector (it’s none of my business if a private company wishes to sign an exclusive contract with a provider of employees), the right-to-work laws don’t exist in a vacuum.

    To dump right-to-work laws an unlibertarian, you have to eliminate all the unlibertarian laws that the right-to-work laws try to fight, namely the unions positioning themselves as the exclusive bargaining units, which is also very unlibertarian. It’s not my business of Joe’s Cupcakes wants to make the National Cupcake Guild the exclusive provider of its employees, but it’s also not any of my business if Joe’s Cupcakes wants nothing to do with the National Cupcake Guild and wishes to ignore it entirely and choose to go with the International Cupcake Frosting Local or the Associated Cupcaketeer’s Bureau or simply hire unaffiliated bakers.

    Right-to-work is unlibertarian, but it exists primarily as a pragmatic check on the other very unlibertarian labor laws. Get rid of the latter and I’d be very happy to get rid of the former. But until then, all I can say to unions complaining about freeloaders — conveniently ignoring the fact that they advocated laws that turn non-union members into freeloaders — is too bad, so sad.

    1. Two wrongs dont make a right.

      1. But three lefts make a right.

      2. Two wrongs dont make a right.

        Oh, please. This is one of those nostrums, like “violence never settles anything”, that no adult should ever voice non-ironically.

        Its wrong to kill or otherwise assault people, yes?

        Who here wants to argue that, because “two wrongs don’t make a right”, no one has the right to defend themselves. You can’t defend yourself without killing or otherwise assaulting someone, which is wrong, so, well, you do the math.

        1. Its wrong to kill or otherwise assault people, yes?

          No, its wrong to initiate force. Sometimes killing in self-defense and sometimes in war even, is right.

          So, rest of argument fails due to premise being wrong.

          1. If it’s wrong to initiate force, why is it right for a union and an employer to collude to force employees to pay money to the union?

            1. No employees are forced to pay money to the union. They have an option, pay the money or find a new job.

          2. OK, the NLRA initiated force, meaning that subsequent force in retaliation, such as RTW, is justified.

            1. Laws dont initiate force, only individuals do. Thus, you can retaliate against the politicians who voted for the Wagner Act.

              1. Laws dont initiate force, only individuals do.


                1. Laws are just words. People have to write them and enforce them. It doesn’t seem too hard to grasp.

              2. Maybe not, but they sure as hell justify a lot of otherwise unjustifiable initiation of force.

        2. No one whom I view as an adult ever does.

      3. When they stand down from NLRB and other union distortions, I’ll stand down from RTW. But it has to be mutual coincident disarmament.

    2. Bingo.

  16. “So I’m not cheerleading for the right-to-work law just passed in Michigan, which bans closed shops in which union membership is a condition of employment”

    Care to explain how?

    An employer if they desired could choose to hire only union members if he so choose whether there was a “Right to Work” law or not because being a “non union member” is not a protected class.

    It may just barely be possible if you had a union employee who revoked his membership and stopped paying dues to threaten you with a wrongful termination suit should you fire him for it, but even there it would be trivially easy to ensure that such workers names were at the top of the layoff list when it came time to have layoffs.

    Right to work in no way shape or form prevents an employer who wants to have a closed union shop from having one, what it does do is allow those who do not want it the flexability of hiring whatever candidate they want for a job regardless of their union status and to not have to deal with firing that person should they quit the union.

    1. My understanding is that Right To Work explicitly banned the arrangement you described. What it does IIRC allow is not a closed shop, where union membership is a precondition of hiring, but a union shop, where union membership is a requirement for those who have already been hired. Of course it allows open shops as well.

      1. I’n not sure about the actual wording of the law in Michigan but it is rather irrelivant.

        The argument here is that RTW interferes with an employer who voluntarily wishes to only hire union members.

        Currently under US labor law employers are generally free to consider whatever criteria they like in their hiring decisions with the exception of a small set of protected classes.

        So you cannot discriminate based on race, gender, age or sexual orientation for example but you can discriminate based on other criteria if you wished. It would be perfectly legal for an employer to require as a condition of employment all employees be a Red Sox fan, or left handed, or possess some minimal level of musical talent.

        Given that no law at any level of government makes not being a union member a protected class then a company can legally discriminate against non union members if it chooses to.

        Even of the wording explicitly bans such arrangements (which I doubt it does) it does not interfere with the employers ability to abide by one.

  17. This is not about freedom of employers. It is about freedom of employees. If you don’t have right to work, unions are free to completely fuck their workers once they are organized. You don’t like paying your dues, fuck you get another job. Oh, the company is going to fire you, too fucking bad, they will just replace you with some guy who also has to pay us dues.

    You guys all think this is about the relationship between the employers and employees. It is not. Right to work is about making unions actually represent and give value to each of their members. That is why unions hate it so much. If it is a closed shop, unions are free to screw over their members, raise dues and generally do whatever the hell they want. In a right to work state, they have to convince workers to join. That means they serve each worker individually. In a closed shop, all they care about is making sure that the dues are paid and the company keeps the same number of positions. Who fills those positions is of no concern to them.

    In a right to work state unions actually fight for individual workers rights because they know if that guy gets fired, the next guy might not join the union. In a closed shop, they couldn’t care less because they get paid either way.

    1. It sounds all no true Scotsman great to go all “companies can agree to whatever they want”. But it misses the point. It is not about the employers. It is about the union and the workers and providing the workers the freedom and leverage to make the damn unions do their jobs.

      1. Whether I agree with your position or not is irrelevant at this point. What’s most important is that you have stopped posting from your smart phone.


    2. ^^^^^^^ THIS AS WELL!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Yes, it is wrong as well.

        1. No it is not. It is the truth. Unions in closed shop states fuck their members. Why the hell should unions be granted the coercive power to make people join?

          1. They dont have any coercive power.

            No one has to join a union. They might have to to get a specific job, but other non-union jobs are available.

            And yes, they are fucking over their members, but what does that have to do with anything?

            1. Yes they do. They can organize by a majority vote. So that means I can be minding my own business, my coworkers organize and I have to join.

              Maybe if the shop was unionized when I hired on, you would have a point. But that is not always the case. How the hell can the unions unilaterally change my terms of employment? That is what you are arguing for.

              1. The union isnt changing your terms of employment, the employer is. And he would be in contract violation if you have a “no closed shop” clause in your employment contract with him.

                But, assuming no contract and assuming an at-will state, he can fire your ass for any reason whatsoever, including refusal to join the union.

                1. The union isnt changing your terms of employment, the employer is. And he would be in contract violation if you have a “no closed shop” clause in your employment contract with him.

                  No they are not. The employer doesn’t decide if the union happens, the employees do. Once the employees vote to certify, that is it, the shop is unionized and all of you “libertarians” are there sticking a gun to my head telling me to pay up or find another job.

                  Employers don’t form unions. Employees form unions.

                  1. And the Wagner Act is the problem at the root of all that.

                    1. ^^THIS

                      Repeal the Wagner Act. Problem solved.

                      Its amazing how many libertarians want to “fix” problems but adding on additional layers of government interference, instead of repealing current layers.

                      Fix the fucking problem.

                    2. Repealing the current layer is next to impossible.

                      As always, you neglect to think about practical considerations.

                    3. Repealing the current layer is next to impossible.

                      So are you a fan of the ACA because of all the previous government meddling that completely fucked the healthcare and health insurance markets? Or should we just have had a slightly different intervention since repealing the previous layer was next to impossible?

                    4. So are you against gay marriage because it requires further government intervention?

                    5. Gay marriage is very much a second-best non-solution, like RTW laws, yes. As I said above, these are things that make the surface situation better but do nothing to fix the real problem.

                    6. So are you against gay marriage because it requires further government intervention?

                      I know this wasn’t directed at me, but yes, I am. The entire goal behing the gay marriage movement is for them to get the same perks and bennies married hetero couples have. It’s not equality, because it perpetuates the fucked up marriage benefits people like me enjoy.

                      People who want marriage “equality” are for abolishing state sanctioning of marriage of only approved and arbitrary relationship types.

                    7. So are you a fan of the ACA because of all the previous government meddling that completely fucked the healthcare and health insurance markets?

                      No. The ACA makes things worse. RTW makes things better.

                    8. “Repealing the current layer is next to impossible.”

                      Almost everything that libertarians want is next to impossible. So we should all just become Republicans, I guess.

                    9. I don’t think that any libertarian arguing in favor of RTW laws would not rather repeal the Wagner Act. I also would rather the government got out of the marriage business, but that’s not possible either, so I’m in favor of legal recognition of gay marriage.

                    10. robc, Michigan can’t repeal the Wagner Act. Thought you’d like to know.

                    11. They have senators and representatives.

                      And lobbyists.

                      Combine all the RTW states together and I think they can repeal it (havent added up the numbers though).

                    12. 24 RTW states, with Michigan.

                      That is 48 senators.

                      I imagine there are a few senators from non-RTW states that would go along with it too, like mine. It would be close, obviously.

                      If only the 17th amendment didnt exist. Sigh.

                    13. If only the 17th amendment didnt exist. Sigh.

                      And the president.

                      And the House.

                      And the state legislatures that are owned by unions.

                    14. the state legislatures that are owned by unions.

                      Like Michigan?

                    15. Also, Michigan could file suit claiming that the Wagner Act is a violation of the 10th amendment, as labor relations is a power reserved to the states.

                    16. Also, Michigan could file suit claiming that the Wagner Act is a violation of the 10th amendment, as labor relations is a power reserved to the states.

                      Commcerce Clause, bitch.

                  2. Unionization doesnt automatically make it a closed shop. The employer can still deal with the union and deal with others individually, if he so wishes, unless he negotiates a closed shop.

    3. John, while I agree with you in general, remember that libertarians do not view employment as a coercive relationship. If your employer wants to change your job description or change your pay or fire you entirely, he can do so for any reason he wishes (unless there is a contract stating otherwise). So we can’t really object to the union telling employees they have to quit if they don’t like what the union is doing.

      1. But the union is not the employer. If the employer wants to hire only union workers, he can, even in a right to work state. This is about the unions ability to force people to join.

        Think of it this way, in most states unions can organize by a majority vote. In a closed shop state, that means that a majority of my coworkers can vote to form a union and I am fucked. I have to join the thing and let it take a big part of my paycheck or lose my job.

        And you guys think that is libertarian? To use the force of law to force me to join a fucking union I didn’t want or vote for that my employer didn’t want just because a few of my coworkers think it is a good idea? You have to be fucking kidding me.

        1. I’m with you, John.

          BTW the union HAS the right to set all the work rules it wants, pay people what it wants, etc.

          All it has to do is buy the company. Most unionized companies are trades on public exchanges.

          That’s libertarian: you want to control it? Great! Buy it, and it’s all yours!

        2. Of course that is not libertarian. The employer should not be compelled in any way to negotiate with the union.

    4. Yes – I worked at a utility that had a stupid failed strike in a right-to-work state. When they came back to worj, the pissed-off employees took it our on their crappy union. Union dues dried up to zero after that fiasco.

  18. For the record, I would find it to be very consistent with libertarian principles to outright ban all public employee union contracting.

    1. As do I.

      I oppose RTW laws. I also oppose PubSec unions. Well, I guess Im okay with them existing as long as the state is banned from collectively bargaining with them.

      1. Yes.

        Politicians aren’t negotiating with their own money.

        1. that’s fundamentally true for anything that happens in politics. The problem with public sector unions (and all government spending) is that politicians are negotiating with contract obligations for which the money isn’t in the state coffers yet.

          There is no problem with public sector unions. There is no problem with collectively bargaining with them. The problem is with debt spending; under a system without public debt, if the pubsec unions want higher pay, and there isn’t money for it, they have to go to the voters to approve tax hikes (or wait till the economy puts more money into the state’s coffers from existing tax hikes).

          1. admittedly this is imperfect (yes, yes there is the question of can you vote to appropriate someone’s money at all in the first place), but at least there’s some accountability.

  19. While Mr. Tucille’s analysis is certainly valid, I think he misses that there are so many very-unlibertarian union laws already in place, granting unions monopolistic power they wouldn’t have otherwise. The ideal is having no laws in regards to unions whatsoever, but since they are there, I do understand trying to break up these unions with unnatural, coercive union monopolies through right to work laws.

  20. Thank you JD for showing that you don’t have to be a corporate whore to be a libertarian. It might seem hard to believe but back in the ’70s the Libertarian Party platform echoed exactly those sentiments in its opposition to RTW laws.

    For those with eyes to see, the decline of union membership and middle class incomes are almost perfectly correlated over the last four decades. If you want real freedom of choice for workers, being part of a strong union should be one of the options available.

    1. So it is okay to be a union whore? In a closed shop state, what motivation does a union have to represent my interests? If I don’t like what the union does, what am I going to do? I can’t quit without losing my job.

      People who argue against right to work are just whores to billion dollar unions. Unions like the Teamsters and such have been fucking over their members for decades, stealing their pensions, using their dues as private slush funds and so forth. They are accountable to no one without right to work.

      When you were a kid, did you want to grow up shilling for millionaires who fuck working people? I hope you did, because that is what you are doing now.

      1. If I don’t like what the union does, what am I going to do? I can’t quit without losing my job.

        You answered your own question.

        1. Yeah because quitting your job is such an easy option. Basically you guys will let union crooks fuck people and steal leaving the workers no way to fight back for what? Principle?

          1. Careful, you’re using the same args leftists use to justify labor laws, minimum wage, etc.

            1. No. The unions should be able to operate just fine. But they should not be able to force people to join them.

              1. And employers shouldn’t be able to force employees to work for less than $X.

                1. They can’t. The employees can quit.
                  I believe involuntary servitude was outlawed by some amendment or other.

          2. Principle?


            1. What principle? That your coworkers get to decide what organizations you join? Sorry Rob, we had an election. We are now a union shop. So give us your money or fuck you find another job. Can an employer do that? Sure. But that is not what is happening.

              That is what you guys don’t get. Unions are not about employee and employer relationships. They are more than anything about relationships amongst workers. They are about one group of workers fucking another group by shutting them out of employment.

              1. Unionization != closed shop.

                Until the employer negotiates it to a closed shop, its open, even with the union.

                1. And in closed shop states, that is the first demand. You guys live in a damned fantasy world. And again, my coworkers leverage my employer to screw me. Yeah, that is real freedom there.

                  1. Yup, in a closed shop state, that is a non-negotiable demand, and I would be interested to know if refusing to agree to a contract with closed-shop clause constitutes negotiating in bad faith that draws down the wrath of the NLRB. I wouldn’t be surprised.

                    1. It wouldnt surprise me either way. I know open shops exist in non-RTW states, so obviously it isnt always non-negotiable.

                      However, the solution is to fix the NLRB, not pass RTW laws.

                    2. It is much easier to pass state labor laws than to change federal law, regulations, and an entrenched bureaucracy.

      2. John is exactly right on this. At LTV Steel, the USWA fucked over the workers more thoroughly than a starlet playing the victim in a hardcore kidnap/rape porn flick.

        Under RTW, the Union has to continually justify the dues they receive by making it worth the employee’s while. Absent RTW, one sees situations which I got to watch where workers who were eager to alter their contract to keep the business viable were sold down the river by an organization that was willing to see them lose their jobs rather than provide leverage to other companies they were predating on. In the case of LTV, the union negotiators (who were definitely pulling down 1% salaries) engaged in bizarre brinksmanship with the upper management of the co (who were also looting the company BTW). The USWA outright worried that budging on the LTV contract might set a bad precedent. The upper management of the company recognizing that the end was inevitable after initial negotiations broke down engaged in feckless negotiations while awarding themselves millions in retention bonuses knowing that whatever they didn’t take would only end up in the creditors’ pockets in the end. It was sad watching the young hourly guys watch helplessly as the organization that nominally protected them threw them out as if they were garbage.

        1. Do you have any good library recommendations?

        2. This is true. I worked at a non-union secondary processor at the time the LTV management and union in cooperation drove LTV into the ground. IIRC, the bonus system was tons produced, not tons accepted. Virtually all the steel we saw coming from LTV was unusable crap that had to be sent back. The union didn’t care; they were getting their bonus. Management couldn’t get them to alter the bonus system,saw the writing on the wall and lined up their golden parachutes. LTV went tits up and the union was fine with that.

    2. Lets not forget, the Unions were basically fronts for the mafia for most of the 20th Century. They took all those pension funds and skimmed them to death leaving their workers out in the cold. And when anyone tried to do anything about, the union thugs murdered them, see e.g. Jock Yblonsky.

      Big labor has been fucking the working people of this country for decades. And anyone who will defend them is a fucking scumbag thief who thinks it is okay to steal an old man’s pension or a poor family’s dinner. Fuck you class warrior you God damned fake bastard.

  21. I very much agree with the idea of government “staying the hell out of it.” However, it seems totally inaccurate to describe right to work legislation as somehow prohibiting people from joining a union. There is nothing, at least in Michigan’s law, that does anything to prevent one from joining a union should they choose. It also does not affect collective bargaining in any way. Further, having the government enshrine forced unionization in various industries does not at all seem to mesh with the idea of “getting government out of moral business transactions.” It is the exact opposite in fact. It would seem very clear to this libertarian that the best policy is simply to not force workers to do one thing or another and leave them to make their own choices. Sticking with forced unionization is more like theft than choice.

  22. repeal the bad intervention and not try to counterbalance it with another bad intervention

    Gay marriage?

    1. When I saw there were 200+ comments, I hoped that someone made that point. Thanks.

  23. I have friends in unions here in Iowa. It’s always interesting at parties to hear them bitch about the union, at the local level and the national level. They generally hate the union about as much as they hate their employer. It doesn’t matter that Iowa is a RTW state. You can’t work at a big employer with a strong union and choose not to pay dues. It can be unhealthy.

    1. Even in a RTW state they still manage to make it hard. My father was a union steward before he went to management. The big unions are total fucking crooks, every single one of them.

      1. My father was a union steward before he went to management.

        Holy shit! I was wondering how you came by such an accurate Gun Range Card on american unions. Now I know! 🙂

      2. There used to be union-checker-upper kind of guys who would show up and hover around at a couple of my old jobs. Why do they all have mustaches and kind of sound like “Raphael” from the simpsons?

        1. The UAW guy I met when I worked the line looked like a caricature of an extra out of a Mafia movie. I almost laughed, then thought better of it.

          1. There’s the rub.

            Unions aren’t about negotiation. They’re about negotiation under duress.

            Real unions, not the nice fake ones that only exist in libertarian theories (much like the nice lawyers and perfect incorruptible lawsuits that solve all disputes and protect individuals from coercion in libertarian fairyland).

    2. yes, this is another unfortunate practical consideration.

      1. In the 80’s, when the meat packing industry was going through upheavels, the national union organization overrode several local union votes to accept concessions resulting in many business closures. It was far more important to the national organization to avoid setting any bad precedents than to keep actual working men and women employeed during a major recession.

    3. In the long run all unions tend to become either Mafia unions (by which I mean leadership parasites, whether or not they maintain cx to organized crime) or bosses’ unions. There is no way you can turn over representation of the many in negotiating with the few without the representatives either being personally bought off by those they’re negotiating with or simply exacting rent from both ends and keeping it themselves.

      1. Exactly.

        Resolve this with the NAP and then we can talk about how union contracts are an example of libertarianism in action.

  24. I’ve got a serious dilemma: should I start Kendall Wright or Dexter McClusterfuck at flex this week in the Reason Hit & Run J sub D Memorial Fantasy Football League? They both suck, but McCluster is going against the Raiders. And the Raiders suck something fierce.

    1. Do not start any Chief not named Jamal Charles. McClusterfuck is one of the most worthless players in football.

      1. McClusterfuck is one of the most worthless players in football.

        Yeah, and he’ll probably score 15 fantasy points this weekend.

        1. Unless another Chief commits a murder suicide, I doubt it. The Chiefs are hopeless, especially now that Bowe is gone for the season. I doubt they will score more than 10 points in any of their three remaining games.

  25. State-Level RTW laws are bad-law designed to counteract bad-law at the federal level. And while the proper answer is to get rid of the bad-law at the federal level, that can’t happen until there are at least 60 republican senators paired up with a republican-controlled house and a republican president. Meaning that is never going to happen.

    At least the camapaign for RTW laws makes for occasional good theater.

    1. It’s amazing that the 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments to NLRA, which amended the far more onerous original law passed in 1935, managed to get 2/3 of both houses (needed to override Trusnake’s veto). The Red Scare did wonders for liberty in some ways.

  26. It’s a fair point.

    Two comments:

    1) How about states create laws to ensure that employers have the choice? I can agree that employers and unions should be free to negotiate whether or not to have a “closed shop”, but I believe there are still jurisdictions out there that REQUIRE unionized workplaces to be closed shops, and do not give employers and unions the freedom to negotiate on this point. I’d be happy with state laws that make it easier for closed shops to become open shops, without outlawing closed shops entirely.

    2) You write about the freedom of private employers to negotiate agreements with unions. May I presume that this position does not extend to governments negotiating with public sector unions? Surely there is a place for “right to work” laws when it comes to public sector unions, since governments are not private employers. A government does not “own the wages”, as you put it, in the same way as a private employer. Surely a citizen should not be forced to accept being ruled by a union in order to serve the community as a public servant.

    1. Re #1: As I have stated above, it is impossible to outlaw closed shops unless one passes a law making non union members a legally protected class.

      So just as employers are free to require their employers all be non smokers as a condition of employment, even with RTW employers can require all employees be members of a Union.

  27. Union tears are so yummy.

  28. So, you also oppose gay marriage, right? We shouldn’t counterbalance one bad intervention with another, after all.

  29. This argument seems to be along the lines of “the ends justify the means”… Sacrifice a little personal freedom (choice to pay dues to union) in favor of the greater good of everyone.

    Seems very un-libertarian to me…

    1. I take it you oppose laws granting recognition of gay marriage as well then?

      1. How does a law allowing gay marriage sacrifice personal freedom?

        No, I do not oppose such law.

        1. There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.

          Many of those impose obligations or restrictions on 3rd parties. So extending marriage privileges to more people imposes more obligations. Note: I’m in favor of both gay marriage and RTW laws.

        2. In pure libertarian theory, a law allowing gay marriage is wrong because there should be no laws about marriage at all.

          If we simply repeal all these laws, and eliminate any mention of marriage from all laws, that would be a better solution.

          Ain’t gonna happen, of course, but that’s the sort of discussion that can go on around here…

  30. I don’t see how ending state-sanctioned mandatory unionization (i.e. right-to-work) is inconsistent with libertarianism. This article fails to really explain why the author seems to believe this.

    1. Nobody is ever forced to join a union, anywhere, and especially not by what constitutes force as libertarians define it.

      1. But employers are forced to bargain with and accept deals with unions, as has been explained a bazillion times in this thread alone.

      2. Re: Tony,

        Nobody is ever forced to join a union

        Yes: The employers are. Yes, they’re forced into entering into a contract and dealing exclusively with a union.

        1. You don’t HAVE to give your car to the carjacker, though. You’re not FORCED.

          You could choose to be shot instead.

          Even most libertarians understand that “having another option” does not mean the same thing as “not coerced.” Not everyone commenting here understand that, but most do.

      3. The employers are forced into forcing their employers into unions.

  31. I could not agree with the author more … in spirit. Ideally, “Right to Work” laws do violate the property rights of business owners who either desire, or have engaged in fair negotiations, to have a closed shop.

    The problem with the ideal is that few, in any, business owners have been free to negotiate fairly with organized labor. Rather business has been the victim of coercive force by the Federal and State governments for nearly a century.

    I will also agree that it is not the ideal situation to attempt a correction of bad law with more bad laws. Repeal of all local, state, and federal laws which grant special legal privileges to unions in negotiations would be the ideal.

    When I begin to see a movement among the proponents of Trade Unionism, especially among Big Labor, to repeal their Government granted privileges I would then reconsider my position on “Right to Work”. Since, however, I doubt Richard Trumka, Andy Stern, or James Hoffa are going to be calling for a repeal of the Wagner Act anytime soon, I can’t see myself expanding my sentimental support of Mr. Tuccille’s position into anything even remotely likely to affect policy.

  32. The economic answer is to repeal the bad intervention and not try to counterbalance it with another bad intervention

    True, but by the same logic we should oppose gay marriage laws because the continue to institutionalize marriage, instead of pushing for deinstitutionalization of marriage.
    And we should oppose medical marijuana laws, because they impose taxes and regulations on marijuana sales, instead of creating a free market in marijuana.

    Moreover, even if we acknowledge that closed shops should be legal if mutually agreed upon by employer and unions, so should (for example) race-based hiring. It should be totally legal for an employer to decide he’s only going to hire whites and only going to serve whites.

    But that doesn’t mean that libertarians should be totally comfortable with the practice and find it socially acceptable. I can’t help thinking that in a libertarian society, even if closed shops were perfectly legal, that it would generally be considered distasteful and undesirable for companies to coerce workers into joining a union as a condition of employment.

    Thus, if we’re going to be OK with laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of race, we should at least be OK with laws that forbid closed shops. In both cases, legally enforcing non-discrimination isn’t the libertarian solution to the problem. But in both cases we would favor a society where there is less race discriminaiton and less mandated-union-membership.

    1. True, but by the same logic we should oppose gay marriage laws because the continue to institutionalize marriage, instead of pushing for deinstitutionalization of marriage.
      And we should oppose medical marijuana laws, because they impose taxes and regulations on marijuana sales, instead of creating a free market in marijuana.

      Moreover, even if we acknowledge that closed shops should be legal if mutually agreed upon by employer and unions, so should (for example) race-based hiring. It should be totally legal for an employer to decide he’s only going to hire whites and only going to serve whites.

      But that doesn’t mean that libertarians should be totally comfortable with the practice and find it socially acceptable.

      I dont find anything in there that I disagree with.

      Well, maybe the medical marijuana part, but its a close call.

      There is a big difference between not finding something socially acceptable and passing a law to prevent it.

    2. Both very solid arguments… Do libertarians advocate freedom by abolishing laws or fixing the laws we have to the same end result? I think the latter is near impossible. But as you explained with the gay marriage argument, in that situation, it is most certainly easier to create more laws to maintain freedom for all.

      This has to be considered on an issue-to-issue basis and not applied the same way throughout all problems. Because there are a LOT of them.

      1. Incrementalism isn’t bad, either.

        Today we support changes in laws, allowing gay marriage, because today that’s what’s on the table.

        We can always advocate for further freedom later, and it may be easier to win the argument if gay marriage is already legal.

        That has been true of gun rights. States have placed fewer restrictions on concealed carry, over time, as it proved not to be the problem that some predicted. Those who objected to CCW permits, on the (IMO correct) libertarian and constitutional principle that a permit should not be required, contributed nothing to a movement in a more libertarian direction.

        Right now, RTW is on the table. It’s more de facto libertarian than the status quo. Next, we can argue for repealing both the NLRA and RTW at the same time, if we want. But repealing NLRA is not on the table. Not even close.

      2. I think abolishing laws is preferable, but if the prospect of abolishing laws is extremely remote (and that is the case with NLRA), then it is worth considering state level interventions that immediately increase liberty for individuals.

        Clearly, having the right to negotiate independently with an employer increases the worker’s liberty. And there are few to zero cases where the employer would honestly PREFER to have a closed shop. This increases the liberty of many people ithout decreasing anyone elses liberty. (Unless you consider the right to impose mandatory dues collection on other people a kind of ‘liberty’.)

        Likewise, deinstitutionalizing marriage is not going to happen any time in our lifetimes. Is it not then worth considering marriage equality laws because they increase liberty for real people right here, right now?

        You have to take into account the human costs of waiting a lifetime for the right to marry. Or being forced to leave your home state to seek employment. Or being unable to work in your chosen profession. Etc.

  33. Until companies have the same rights to collude as employees do under the NLRA, intervention seems fair play. Coercion into a political organization is not something that is equitable when it comes to employment. In California, we do not enforce non-compete agreements on policy grounds outside of very limited situations. The theory is that a person should be able to pursue their trade without unfair limitation.

    Unions have unfair leverage in that they can collectively bargain but employers cannot. If all the car companies can get together and offer a wage proposal to the the UAW then fine. But as far as I can tell, that would be a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The NLRA was passed to exempt labor from the antitrust rules.

    So cry me a river about how unlibertarian it is to intefere into a scheme that is itself the result of an interference (NLRA) with an interference (Sherman and Clayton Acts). Repeal all of them. Or, simply provide by legislation the most freedom possible. No shop actually wants to be closed. Who wants generally unmotivated and overly entitled workers who get treated the same, thereby ensuring a race to the bottom?

    Maybe this was a bad day to read this given some extortionate shakedown a client received from a local union today. Unions have a place against Standard Oil. But they don’t in most other instances.

    1. What would be even better is if all car companies could collectively agree not to bargain at all with the UAW.

      Your point wins the Internet, though. In practice, no employer would prefer to enter into a CBA with a union, because unions categorically diminish productivity and profit.

    2. “The theory is that a person should be able to pursue their trade without unfair limitation.”

      Precisely. There are limits on what rights can be contracted away.

      Libertarians tend not to object to these limits, except in odd circumstances like this one.

    3. “The theory is that a person should be able to pursue their trade without unfair limitation.”

      Precisely. There are limits on what rights can be contracted away.

      Libertarians tend not to object to these limits, except in odd circumstances like this one.

    4. I don’t think there is a good day to hear libertarians ply their stock-in-trade of attacking anything that falls short of being the perfect solution to an intolerable situation.

      As has been pointed out, Michigan can’t repeal the Wagner Act. So the libertarian stance is that the state should do nothing and suffer the current state of affairs indefinitely. And then they wonder why their movement never seems to gain traction.

      1. Mustango, have you read anything in this thread, or anything else by Reason on RTW at all? There’s no single libertarian position on RTW, let alone that RTW is bad. You’re either stupid, illiterate, or a troll.

  34. Union lackeys are writing for Reason now? Hmmm… good reason not to donate.

    1. Actually, I appreciate the fact that not all libertarians are in lockstep on all issues, and that we can get a variety of different opinions here.

      I also think it’s worth letting other people know that libertarians have a variety of different principled takes on the subject.

      1. There’s nothing worse than having to explain that libertarianism covers a wide-range of political views.. except for having to explain to other “libertarians” that there is no singular “libertarian position” on tons of issues.

        1. Yes. It’s always annoying when I see people take purity too far. Certainly it’s valuable, but I don’t automatically consider someone to be “un-libertarian” just because they don’t always come to the same conclusions I do. Doesn’t mean I won’t try to rip their position apart, though.

          It’s sort of funny that you bring up the idea of a “singular ‘libertarian position'”. Look up at my previous post.

  35. Supporting a free society means embracing people’s freedom to form unions.

    Right to work laws do not stop people from joining unions. They just forbid unions and employers from extracting union dues from members by force.

    “The economic answer is to repeal the bad intervention and not try to counterbalance it with another bad intervention.”

    Actually, this so-called “bad intervention” constitutes a repeal of the previous intervention by default. It is not like the CRA 1964 which went full collectivist mode by requiring private parties to not discriminate anyone instead of limiting itself to repealing bad state policies – that IS bad policy and continues to be bad policy. However, this is not the case of RTW. Thus RTW and CRA are NOT equivalent.

    As well, what the hell is so difficult to accept about the notion of requiring unions to collect dues in a voluntary way and not at the point of baseball bat?

  36. And a union contract can help make workplaces more predictable for employers, ensure that information is disseminated to workers, and reduce a variety of workplace transaction costs.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! I’ll distill my extensive Labor/Union Relations experience to the following:

    Unions bring you a couple things:
    1) Higher costs
    2) More problems
    3) Reduced efficiency
    4) Wasted time

    Always. Forever. In EVERY case.

    Whatever teeny, tiny, theoretical “benefit” I may get from a union as an employer (I myself like the ability to quickly spread information – but I’d just do it a different way if I didn’t have a union…oh, and at less cost) is far and away offset by 1-4 above. Way more than offset.

    Then I give my clients a couple real life examples and note, “THIS is why you don’t want a union.” If you have one…hard luck. There is nothing inherent in a union that provides benefit to an employer. Nothing. And if you DON’T have one? Thank your lucky stars and do everyting – EVERYTHING (stipulating nothing immoral, illegal or unethical) – you can to keep it that way.

    1. “I may prefer one outcome or another, but I don’t have the right to enforce it by law, and that’s what right-to-work legislation does.”

      1. I’m SO glad that sentence explains what to do when an outcome is ALREADY enforced by law. Oh wait….

  37. Someone said something positive about unions!? Cancel my subscription!!!!!!!!!

  38. “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – Voltaire

    Yes it would be great if Congress and the President would repeal the NLRA and return America to blissful state of labor libertopia. Sadly, that ain’t going to happen anytime soon.

    So, if the states use methods (RTW laws) that don’t entirely pass the libertarian purity test in order to fight back and undermine the NLRA, I’m pretty okay with that.

  39. I am seriously considering writing a letter to the Koch Brothers telling them what’s happening at their magazine. I’d include this, as well as the “marraige equality” crap, Chapman’s inflation article, the article about how when a homosexual kills himself, it’s the schools fault, the stereoids article, the article argueing that “evil” is resonsible for everything wrong with the world, Champman’s pro-obama article, and much more. Tuccile seriously doesn’t see the difference between his romanticized union, and what unions really are, government institutions. Employers HAVE to recognize and negotiate with unions, and works HAVE to join them. What RTW does is it says that, as a government institution, workers do not HAVE to join. What if the employer wnats to force his workers into a government institution? Oh cry me a river. The government does not HAVE to enforce contracts, you know. If an employer wants to make his workers join a non-governmental organization, theoretically, that should be his right. But as far as forcing his workers to join a government institution, one with the power to violate other’s right, then we should be able to say no to that. What if an employer tried to force his workers to join the army? We should be able to say no, we don’t want them in our army.

    1. The HandR commenter calling himself “American” once more utterly fails at reading comprehension.

      Utterly unsurprising as due to the American Public School system the vast majority of people in the general population who identify as “American” likewise utterly fail at reading comprehension.

    2. Please, please post a copy of the letter you send.

    3. Go read the Weekly Standard then, asshole.

      1. Because I’m the only one who disagrees with Tuccille here. I’d say he’s in the minority. I’d never read that war mongering neo-con publication anyway.

  40. Exactly. The only right relevant to present conditions that has merit is the individual right to work without joining a union (and have 30% of your dues go to a political cause you may or may not agree with, and 60% go to the wages of union officials who are making a shit pile more money than the members). Anything above that is just idealistic wankery.

  41. Of course, in practice the fact that most union employees currently are government workers may color many libertarians’ views on these laws.

  42. Even Ron Paul has said that people have every right to bargain collectively, but that is not the issue as I understand it. The issue is unions preventing private employers from from freely forming contracts with whomever they wish.

    1. Then outlaw that, instead of just outlawing the result, which may come about through force, or it may come about through a voluntary agreement between employer and union.

  43. A union without coercion or violence is a professional association.

    Unions are cartels – collusive monopolies intended to raise prices by squelching internal competition. Without the threat of (state) violence to enforce the cartel powers, unions will see companies hire non-union replacements in the face of any aggressive union demands. They will eventually see their own members defect from the cartel, since they’d rather work for less than not work at all.

    So any political solution related to unions that doesn’t strip their special grant of government-enforced monopoly is missing the point.

  44. Sure, this argument would make sense if businesses had a real choice in allowing their employees to unionize or not, but they don’t.
    RTW laws don’t disallow unions, they give the employees the choice to join or not, thus increasing freedom.

  45. Libertarians on UNIONS–the wonderful summary combats extreme ‘libertarian’ conservatives claiming libertarianism=right to work, anti-unionism, anticollective bargaining, etc. and shows the correct fight is for automatic choice of union agencies…contact your legislator! http://www.libertarianinternat…..-worldwide ( MG wrote the original Lib platform position and later clarified that the issue was not free association but freedom of attorney/agent )

  46. I agree that the best solution would be to repeal all the previous government interventions, but I think that is unlikely, so I am content with prohibiting closed shops as the most expeditious way to free those employees who prefer not to pay a union to represent them. As I understand it, there is nothing in the bill that will preclude employers from negotiating with employees either individually or collectively, nor from providing any benefits they wish. If the union succeeds in negotiating a better deal for their members, the non-members will still be free to join. This bill merely precludes the majority (of employees in a union election) from binding the minority, which seems very libertarian to me.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.