Monday, April 23, 2012

Private-Sector Labor Policy

           I believe that workers have the right to pursue goals through collective bargaining in the private sector. I would vote to support the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act and the abolition of the National Labor Relations Board (while contemporaneously urging local governments to begin to administer N.L.R.B.-type services), as they are not necessary to uphold collective bargaining rights, which existed prior to – and exist independently of – any law purporting to uphold, protect, or strengthen that right.

This is not to say, however, that unions have any right to compel the management of workplaces to accede to their demands, nor to lobby government agencies to engage in such compulsion on their behalf. On the contrary; workers’ rights to collectively bargain exist insofar as managements are willing to entertain and give credence to claims of such rights.

In order to foster a civil society which defends the freedom of association as a basic principle of legitimate government, it is essential that no governmental agency administer legislation which impairs the obligation of contracts – whether retroactively or prospectively – unless such contracts interfere with the right to be free from coercion, or such legislation is enacted on the level of municipalities or geographically small counties. As such, I would vote to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, which would effectually invalidate the states’ Right-to-Work laws.

Notwithstanding the successes of the labor movement in helping to procure a decent living wage (in addition to improving workplace safety and procuring health and retirement benefits), union security agreements often carry with them the unfortunate effect of increasing the cost of living, in addition to increasing levels of unemployment and creating unnecessary barriers of entry into the labor market. As such, I would urge unions and managements to make open-shop union security agreements in negotiation in order to prevent and counter-act free-rider problems, rather than to make alternative union security agreements, which I feel can breed resentment of unions among working people.

I believe that the current system – in which the N.L.R.B. wields the power to permit or deny unions’ requests for the right to engage in strikes – can function as an impediment to the goals of organized labor. Examples include narrowing the range of acceptable tactics for labor-movement activities, making independent – or “wildcat” – strikes less likely to occur, making it less likely for new and fledgling labor unions to gain prominence, and exacerbating the oligarchialization of agencies representing workers. As such, I would vociferously advocate for dual- and minority-unionism; urging union officials, members, and supporters to tolerate competition by other unions; and urging management to negotiate with multiple unions, as well as with workers on an individual basis.

      Although such mandates are unlikely to be enacted, I would propose legislation prohibiting the federal and state governments from mandating that all unionized workplaces within the pertinent jurisdictions have closed-shop or union-shop security provisions. Additionally – being that informed consent is necessary to ensure that contract-making is voluntary – I would urge governments at all levels to pass legislation ensuring that prospective employees become informed during their job interviews whether they will be obligated to join a union as a condition of employment.

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