‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative

‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative.

SOON — PERHAPS AS EARLY AS TODAY — Gov. Mitch Daniels will sign legislation making Indiana the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. Labor unions angrily oppose the change, but their opposition has no legitimate or principled basis.

Labor unions vehemently oppose right-to-work laws. What principled reason can they have for doing so?

State right-to-work laws, authorized by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, are not anti-union. They are pro-choice: They protect workers from being forced to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of keeping a job. In non-right-to-work states, employees who work in a “union shop” are compelled to fork over part of each paycheck to a labor organization — even if they want nothing to do with unions, let alone to be represented by one. Laws like the one Indiana is poised to enact simply make union support voluntary. Hoosiers can’t be required to kick back part of their wages to the Republican Party or the Methodist Church or the Animal Liberation Front; the new measure will ensure that they don’t have to give a cut of everything they earn to labor unions, either.

Most Americans regard compulsory unionism as unconscionable. In a new Rasmussen survey, 74 percent of likely voters say non-union workers should not have to pay dues against their will. Once upon a time, labor movement giants like Samuel Gompers, a founder of the American Federation of Labor, agreed. “I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty — the principles of voluntarism,” declared Gompers in his last speech to the AFL in 1924. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.” Those words can be seen chiseled on Gompers’s memorial in Washington, DC.

But far from rejecting compulsion, Big Labor now fights tooth and nail to defend it. And no wonder: Unions have long since squandered the affection of the American public. In the years right after World War II, more than one-third of the US workforce was unionized; now the union membership rate is just 11.8 percent, and most of those members are government employees. In the productive economy, Americans continue to flee from organized labor. Last year only 6.9 percent of workers at private companies belonged to unions.

So as a matter of by-any-means-necessary expediency, it is easy to understand why Big Labor long ago embraced what liberal scholar Robert Reich (who served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor) dubbed “the necessity for coercion.” In order “to maintain themselves,” Reich said in 1985, “unions have got to have some ability to strap their members to the mast.” Or, as Don Corleone might have put it, to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

But is there any ethical reason — any honorable basis — for the union shop?

Great labor leaders once championed freedom and choice. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion,” insisted Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor.

Labor and its allies are ruthless, and usually quite effective, in beating down right-to-work bills. Indiana will be the first state in more than a decade that has succeeded in banning labor contracts that oblige all employees to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. (A similar bill in New Hampshire last year was vetoed by Governor John Lynch.) No-holds-barred vehemence in defense of principle might be understandable. But what legitimate principle are the unions defending?

To hear them tell it, they only object to “free riders.” Labor leaders claim it would be unjust to allow employees to avoid paying for the unions that negotiate benefits on their behalf. “There’s always going to be a certain amount of the population that will take something for free if they can get it for free,” says Nancy Guyott, head of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

That’s not a principle, it’s a shameless pretext. Unions demand monopoly bargaining power — the right to exclusively represent everyone in a workplace — and then insist that each of those workers must pay for the privilege. This is the “principle” of the squeegee-man who aggressively wipes your windshield when you stop at a red light, then demands that you pay for the service he has rendered you.

By the union’s “free-rider” logic, shouldn’t all voters be forced to subscribe to a daily newspaper, since all of them benefit from its journalism? And shouldn’t every company be compelled to support the Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of business whether individual firms ask it to or not?

The passion with which Big Labor fights right-to-work helps explain why so many Americans have abandoned unions. The labor movement was born in freedom and choice. That’s not what it stands for anymore.

Friend Of The Bride – Tea Party Nation

Wisconsin Education Association Council logo

Image via Wikipedia

Friend Of The Bride – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Tim Nerenz

With one bold stroke, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker turned a decade of budget deficits into a projected surplus without raising taxes; all it took was to bust the public unions.

Most people run away from the term “union-busting” but the Wisconsin experience should make it clearer than ever that union-busting is a good thing. Union-busting is good thing because compulsory unionization is vile. Take a pill, my dear union friends; I said compulsory unionism is vile.

It is vile because it denies a fundamental right – the right to work. We own ourselves and our labor; and we are free to set the terms of its exchange or we are not free. Forcing someone to join a union as a condition of employment is a denial of his/her self-ownership; it is as simple as that.

Key word: force. Unionists can talk in grand platitudes about worker rights, but when force is your first principle, the words used to justify it merely calibrate the depth of the lie. The rapist can quote the poet, but that does not make it an act of love.

As it turns out, public unions were THE fiscal problem in Wisconsin. The proof is in the thousands of municipalities and school districts throughout the state which have turned staggering deficits into surpluses within days, once the Governor’s Budget Repair Bill was liberated from the clutches of liberal courts which held it hostage for months. Now we know what they were so afraid of – it was this easy all along.

In city after city, and school district after school district, layoffs of public employees are being avoided, classroom sizes are being reduced, merit pay for good teachers is being funded, benefit plans are being improved at lower costs, and taxpayers are saving money. The winner in the “war on the middle class” is the middle class.

Teachers’ jobs have been saved, despite their own unions best efforts to eliminate them. Except in the city of Milwaukee, where the unions and their rubber-stamp school board rushed to extend union contracts ahead of Walker’s collective bargaining reforms. Hundreds of teachers lost their jobs, vital services have been cut, and class sizes will increase. Nice going, WEAC.

Milwaukee has been punched in the gut with the solidarity fist; or perhaps kicked slightly lower would be a more apt description. Milwaukee parents and teachers can thank the public unions, the Democrats, Dane County judge Sumi, and Secretary of State La Follette for making the sorry state of their schools even sorrier.

Even with the political cover of “Walker made me”, the unionist bullies could not bring themselves to do the right thing. When push came to shove, they couldn’t stop pushing and shoving inner-city kids. That’s what they do; it’s who they are. MPS was the libertarians’ best argument for school choice, and the argument got stronger.

Surprise, surprise – the world did not end with passage of budget reforms in Wisconsin; things got instantly better. This has come as a shock to liberals and unionists who have spent their lifetimes insulated from economic reality and marinating in their own propaganda. It should not have surprised anyone; instantly better is what happens when blight is removed.

If Governor Walker and the Republicans are serious about creating jobs in this state, they need to take the next step and pass Right to Work legislation now. Put the “free” back in free enterprise and then step out of the way; that’s how you stimulate the economy.

Compulsory unionization destroys initiative, stifles innovation, increases costs, protects inefficiency and sloth, and its parasitic nature ultimately kills its host. The same union toxicity that cripples the effectiveness of government and education is even more deadly in the private sector, where firms compete to survive.

Wisconsin is littered with the carcasses of once-thriving businesses whose unions killed them. But it is also filled with private, non-union firms who compete around the world and against the world every day. We do not thrive in spite of our non-union status; we thrive because of it.

President Obama is doing everything in his power to stack the regulatory and legal deck in favor of the unions which fund his Democrat Party. Through executive order and NLRB actions, he seeks to impose by force what 93% of private sector workers have voluntarily rejected – union representation.

Given his administration’s track record on economic matters, the President’s unionist agenda should be opposed simply because he has proposed it. You do not need a Ph.D. in economics to know the path to American prosperity; you only need to learn the elements of President Obama’s plan and choose their opposites. Wisconsin cannot wait for a national Right To Work law; we must act now.

Right To Work laws do not prohibit or even inhibit union representation; in fact, RTW preserves the right of every worker to join a union and collectively bargain. But Right To Work also preserves the equal right of every worker to represent themselves; it preserves the basic right of self-ownership. And there are no “kinda” rights; rights are digital, not analog.

Unions which add value in the workplace will have no problem in an environment of choice. Workers will gladly choose to join a union that benefits them, and employers will eagerly accept a union that improves the quality, safety, and morale of its workforce. Like everything else, choice and competition in labor representation improves quality and reduces cost.

Compulsory unionism is like forced marriage; the groom has a million reasons why it is good for the bride. Right To Work gives her choices and respect. Be a friend of the bride.

“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.