Reason Roundup

Harris Wants to Ban Right-to-Work Laws, Chooses Union Endorsements Over Worker Well-Being

Plus: life after ISIS, Kansas says state constitution guarantees abortion access, and more...


Kamala Harris wants to make absolutely sure that we know she's an authoritarian. Fresh off announcing that as president she would override Congress to get her way on gun policy, the Democratic senator from California and 2020 presidential hopeful said she would use executive power to push for bans on state laws she opposes, too.

Speaking to a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gathering on Saturday, Harris spoke of the need for "banning right-to-work laws" that nearly half of states have enacted and how, as president, she would use both her "bully pulpit" and "executive authority" to accomplish that.

Right-to-work laws are often framed by Democrats as an anti-worker policy. In fact, all they say is that employees can't be told to join a union or pay union fees as a condition of employment. They're still welcome to do so; they just have to make that choice for themselves.

In the topsy-turvy world of Harris and other Democrats, however, giving workers options is no good. If elite forces in Washington think workers would be better off joining unions, then they're just going to override the will of individual employees and state governments across the country. Do as they say! Or else! For your own good.

Sure, some low-income workers might think their hard-earned dollars are better spent on securing immediate material well-being for them and their families. But Harris thinks their dollars would be better off with a massive and bloated international organization that can help her presidential campaign. I mean, have you seen SEIU's massive mansion across the street from the White House? How could any group so swampy be wrong?

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted yesterday:

Right to work is a bugbear to union leaders because it crimps their finances for political spending, and Ms. Harris is eager to get the endorsement of the SEIU and other major unions. Her first big policy proposal, unveiled in March, would have the feds give teachers across the country an average pay raise of $13,500 a year. That payoff to the teachers unions would cost federal taxpayers some $315 billion over 10 years, not including what states would have to contribute to qualify for these Harris Grants.

The big story of the 2020 campaign so far is the Democratic Party's lurch to the left, and Ms. Harris's pitch against right to work is evidence that her goal is entrenching union power rather than assisting workers.

Several years ago, Reason ran a series of articles on whether libertarians should support right-to-work laws. Here's Shikha Dalmia making that case that yes, "right to work laws are indeed libertarian." Meanwhile, contributors Sheldon Richman and J.D. Tuccille make a libertarian case against right-to-work laws, arguing that they interfere with freedom of contract, here and here.


  • In the 1990s, life in Syria's Remote Provinces "was generally simple and uneventful," writes Hassan Hassan, a native of the area:

The state's presence was minimal, and villagers sustained themselves through farming and remittances from relatives working in the Persian Gulf. Even in retrospect, nothing in those days indicated that my home province would become the main transit hub for jihadists moving from Syria into Iraq after the 2003 invasion, or the site of the Islamic State's final battle as a caliphate.

Now Hassan struggles "to connect images from my past with the reality of today," he writes in The Atlantic. Read the whole thing here.

  • In which the Associated Press pulls every linguistic trick possible to avoid saying who shot at and wounded three children—an Oklahoma cop. Thankfully, the kids are expected to be OK.