Some Thoughts on Labor Unions

Many free marketers are wary of labor unions, but many more oppose them.  Personally, I have no problems with unions.  There is nothing inherently illiberal or anti-market in an union, at least no more so than a corporation or a church.  A labor union, just like a corporation, is a group of people who have banded together to achieve some common goal.  While I have never been part of an official union, such as the AFL-CIO, there have been times when co-workers and I have banded together to inform our bosses about certain grievances.  I feel unions are an integral part of a free market (freedom of association, after all).

Where the trouble comes in is when unions become politicized.  Much like a corporation, unions can become cronies.  They often lobby for special favors or protections, which give them an unfair advantage, similar to corporate lobbying.  Obviously, I oppose this type of behavior, just as I do with a corporation seeking special benefits.

So, what about Right-to-Work?  I can honestly say I am conflicted.  On the one hand, I dislike the idea of unions being able to compel non-members to pay dues or to join.  On the other hand, I believe that, if a shop agrees to be a union-only shop, they have every right to uphold this agreement.  It’s a tough decision.  The RTW legislation is trying to fix the National Labor Relations Act, but I don’t think using poor legislation to fix poor legislation is the pathway to prosperity (if public choice theory has taught us anything, it’s that government will use any excuse possible to expand its power).  So, whenever I read about another state passing RTW legislation, I always greet it with mild concern, asking myself “where do we go from here?”

7 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Labor Unions

  1. I agree that using poor legislation to fix poor legislation is not a good idea; but, are you sure that the Right to Work” acts that are being voted into place are poor legislation? Seems to me that returning the freedom of choice to the individual is a good thing.

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  2. Perhaps instead of adding more legislation to bad legislation, which mostly serves to expand the role of government, , a better remedy would be to repeal those NLRA rules that are troublesome. (That’s most of them). A worker should NOT be required to join a union or pay dues, a union should NOT be required to represent every employee, and an employer should NOT be required to negotiate with a union, or allow union activity on their property.

    Free choice all around. If an employer wants to deal only with a union (closed shop) it should be free to do so.

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  3. …(if public choice theory has taught us anything, it’s that government will use any excuse possible to expand its power).

    And that’s exactly why FCC regulation of the internet is so frightening.

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  4. Ron H. is right on. Repeal, don’t fix. Government should only enforce criminal law no matter who commits the criminal act, which would take care of the violence.

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